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With Illustrations. 6s. 6d. net. 

" The author's selection of material is judicious and 
her manner of using it is interesting. The accounts 
of the mosques of El-Azhar and Edh-Dhaher are 
particularly good. She has taken her audience to 
the most noteworthy mosques of the city. . . . She 
reveals the strength of her reserves in the valuable 
chronological appendix. A discriminating biblio- 
graphy is included, also an excellent plan made by 
the Survey of Egypt." Athenceum. 

"A popular guide to Cairo, to which is appended a 
chronological table of the principal historical monu- 
ments, a list of authorities, a glossary of terms ahd 
an index. There are good photographic illustrations 
and a large folding plan of the medieval monuments 
of the city." Times Literary Supplement. 







Author of " JR ambles in Cairo." 


First Published 1921 





THOUGH the ten chapters which are 
comprised in this volume have been 
arranged in chronological order, they 
by no means represent a continuous historical 
series. They rather form a collection of histori- 
cal essays concerning a few of those monuments 
which interested me particularly among the rich 
treasures of Moslem art to be found in Cairo. 
I had begun to collect the materials for them 
before special war circumstances induced me to 
write Rambles in Cairo for the benefit of the 
soldiers stationed here, and, in that work, I 
purposely avoided a detailed mention of these 
mosques, hoping that I might yet carry out my 
previous intention. In the meanwhile, I utilised 
some of the materials for a few articles in the 
Cairo Sphinx, which will be found to be practically 
embodied in the present volume. 

As this is merely intended for ordinary readers 
and not for specialists, I have thought it better 
to abstain from too many notes of reference, 



especially as I cannot claim to have discovered 
any little-known Arab sources, but have practi- 
cally confined myself to Maqrizy and Ibn lyas, 
whilst I have been glad to make use of the works 
of Western writers, such as Marcel, Van Berchem, 
Franz, Herz, Lane-Poole, Margoliouth, Creswell, 
and others. I have also to thank the last-named 
for nearly all the photographs which serve to 
illustrate this book. The chronological table 
appended is taken from that of Rambles in Cairo, 
but the latter appeared before Captain Creswell's 
Brief Chronology of the Muhammadan Monuments 
in Egypt, and, therefore, contained errors which 
had, until then, been accepted and which have 
now been corrected. 


CAIRO, 1920. 



Introduction vii 

I. The Mosque of Es Saleh Talayeh . i 

II. The College of Sultan Es Saleh 

Negm ed Din Ayub . . .11 

III. The Tomb of Sultan Es Saleh Negm 

ed Din Ayub . . . .19 

IV. The Tomb of Queen Shagarat ed 

Durr 30 

V. The Tomb of the Ummayad Sheykh 

Zein ed Din Yussef ... 40 

VI. The Khanqa of Sultan Beybars el 

Gashenkir 49 

VII. The Tombs of Sangar el Gawly and 

Selar 59 

VIII. The Epoch of Sultan Qaitbay . 70 

IX. The Mosque of Khairbek . . 101 

X. The Mosque of Malika Safiya . in 

Index 129 


Sebilof Sultan Qaitbay at Jerusalem. . . Frontispiece 

Facing page 

Mosque of Saleh Talayeh. General view (in 1918) . - 2 

Mosque of Saleh Talayeh. Detail of ornament . . 4 

Stucco window from Mosque of Saleh Talayeh now in 

Arab Museum, Cairo ..... 8 

College of Saleh Negm ed Din Ayub. Ornament of 

north-west facade . . . . . .12 

College of Saleh Negm ed Din Ayub. Minaret, south- 
east side ....... 16 

Tomb of Saleh Negm ed Din Ayub. General view (in 

1918) 18 

Tomb of Saleh Negm ed Din Ayub. Remains of porch 26 

Tomb of Shagarat ed Durr. Mihrab ... 32 

Tomb of Shagarat ed Durr. South-east fa9ade (1918). 36 

Tomb of Zein ed Din Yussef. Interior of Dome . 42 

Tomb of Zein ed Din Yussef. South liwan . . 44 

Tomb of Zein ed Din Yussef. Dome ... 46 

Khanpa of Beybars el Gashenkir. Minaret . . 52 

Khanpa of Beybars el Gashenkir. Porch ... 58 

Tombs of Selar and Sangar el Gawly. North fa?ade . 60 

Tombs of Selar and Sangar el Gawly. Interior of pray- 
ing hall ........ 62 



Facing page 

Tombs of Selar and Sangar el Gawly. Carved stone 

screen 64 

Tombs of Selar and Sangar el Gawly. Screens seen 

from yard 66 

Endowment house of Sultan Qaitbay ... 74 

Mosque of Ezbek el Yussefy. Sebil facade . . 80 
Dome el Fadawiya. Detail of ornament ... 82 

Madrassa of Sultan Qaitbay at Qala'at el Kabsh. Detail 

of interior ....... 86 

Sebil-Kuttab of Sultan Qaitbay .... 96 
Mosque of Sheykh Sultan Shah. Interior . . .98 
Mosque of Khairbek. North-west fa9ade . . . 100 

Mosque of Khairbek. Porch 102 

Mosque of Khairbek. Interior .... 104 

Mausoleum of Khairbek at Aleppo . . . .106 
Mosque of Malika Safiya. Porch and steps . .no 
Mosque of Malika Safiya. Minaret . . . .118 
Mosque of Malika Safiya. Interior . . . .120 


MUCH interest is attached to this building 
by the fact that it was practically the 
last Fatimite monument erected in 
Cairo, in the year 1160, just as the dynasty was 
about to fall. It was already much enfeebled ; 
one child khalife succeeded the other, ruling in 
name only, as did the last Merovingian kings, 
whilst a powerful wazir, like the Frank Mayor 
of the Palace, was the actual autocrat whose 
hands wielded royal authority. 

The Wazir Talayeh ibn Ruzziq, founder of 
this mosque, when he came into power, called 
himself El Malek es Saleh, thus assuming a 
royal title, as did the Ayubite and Mameluke 
Sultans who came after him. According to 
Maqrizy, he was a man not only of a strong 
character, but of a remarkable intellect ; himself 
a poet and the author of a religious tract concern- 
ing the Shiite faith which he professed, he used 
to hold at his palace gatherings of literary men 
who came from all parts to honour him and hear 


him repeat his poems ; his liberality and hospi- 
tality were proverbial. His history is a very 
romantic one : a very pious and fervent Shiite 
already in his youth, he journeyed to Mesopo- 
tamia in order to visit the shrine of the Imam 
Aly b. Abu Taleb, in company with several other 
pilgrims. The imam of the shrine was at that 
time a certain Ibn Ma 'sun, who gave hospitality 
to the pilgrims ; in the night, Ibn Abu Taleb 
appeared to Ibn Ma'sun in a vision and said to 
him : " Among the pilgrims whom thou hast 
entertained, one man, whose name is Talayeh ibn 
Ruzziq, is under my protection ; tell him to go 
to Egypt, of which he will become Governor. " 
In the morning the imam sent to ask if any of 
the pilgrims bore this name, desiring that he 
should come to speak with him. Talayeh came 
forward and he told him of the dream he had 
had concerning him. Acting upon this prophecy 
the son of Ruzziq went to Egypt where he was 
eventually made Governor of Ushmunein. 

Egypt at that time (1149) was in great danger 
from the Franks of Syria who had gradually come 
nearer the frontier and who had just taken the 
town of Ascalon, while Norman ships from 
Sicily, landing near the town of Tennis on the 




Menzaleh Lake, had pillaged the town and 
retired, carrying away many captives and valuable 
goods. The reigning Khalife, Ez Zaher b'amr 
Illah, was a debauched youth whose vices were 
the indirect cause of his death ; he was murdered, 
as well as his two brothers, by his own Wazir, 
Abbas, amidst an appalling scene of horror. 
Abbas, by the same opportunity, seized most 
of the riches which the royal palace contained, 
but did not attempt to appropriate the crown. 
He fetched the murdered Ez Zaher's baby son, 
El Faiz, and brought him on his shoulder upon 
the scene of carnage ; the unhappy child was so 
terrified that he fell into an epileptic fit and after- 
wards remained subject to similar attacks until 
the end of his short life. The revolution was not 
well received by the negro Guard of the late 
Khalife nor by the women of the Court, and the 
latter sent an urgent appeal to Ushmunein, begging 
Talayeh to come to the rescue ; they went so far 
as to send him locks of their hair, " the strongest 
possible sign of entreaty in a Muslima," l says 
Lane-Poole, who borrows from Osama, an eye- 
witness, a most dramatic account of this tragedy. 
Talayeh made a triumphant entry into Cairo, 
1 History of Egypt in the Middle Ages, Methuen, 1914, p. 173. 



carrying a lance decorated by ladies 5 tresses and 
followed by a numerous army of partisans, which 
increased as he progressed. Abbas fled to Syria, 
where he came to a tragic end at the hands of 
the Franks, and Ibn Ruzziq, donning the robes 
of the wazirate, installed himself in his place. 
He had the murdered Khalife interred in the 
royal mausoleum, ordered the execution of guilty 
persons and proceeded to reorganise the realm. 
The little Khalife's tender years left the Wazir 
an absolutely free hand, and historians agree 
in acknowledging that his rule was a wise and 
beneficent one. When El Faiz died in 1160, at 
the age of eleven, the Wazir sought to give him 
a successor, and an aged prince was presented 
to him as being the nearest relative of the deceased. 
He was about to appoint him when one of his 
confidants whispered in his ear : " Thy pre- 
decessor was wiser when he chose as Khalife 
a boy of five years." Struck by this remark, 
Talayeh rejected the old man who had been 
suggested to him, chose a boy named 'Abdallah, 
a grandson of the Khalife El Hafez le-din Illah, 
and had him proclaimed under the name of 
El 'Aded le-din Illah. He gave the new Khalife 
his daughter in marriage, with a superb dowry, 




and, thus having secured a royal figure-head who 
owed absolutely everything to him, he resumed 
the role of ruler de facto, which he so ably filled. 

However, his stern and perhaps contemptuous 
rule had made for him many enemies, and he 
was assassinated in the following year. Maqrizy 
relates the story of his death in one of his delight- 
fully realistic pages, which help to form an idea 
of the manners and customs of the time. He 
says that Talayeh, who was about to start lor his 
daily ride to the palace, remembered that the day 
was the anniversary of the assassination of the 
Imam 'Aly ; he therefore ordered a waterskin to 
be brought for his ablutions, put on the special 
costume of the Imamiya sect, and performed the 
long prayer, prostrating himself one hundred and 
twenty times. After this, as he went out to 
mount his horse, probably feeling somewhat 
giddy from the exertion, he lost his balance and 
fell, dropping his turban, which became unrolled. 
He sat down in the vestibule and a certain Ibn 
ed Deif was sent for, who received a large salary 
for making up the turbans of Khalifes and Wazirs. 

As Ibn ed Deif began his work, one of his 
assistants respectfully suggested to the Wazir 
that this accident was a warning and that it 



would be more prudent to give up riding out on 
that day. Ibn Ruzziq replied that superstition 
was of the Devil and that nothing would keep him 
from his ride. He then rode to the Khalife 's 
palace and was fatally stabbed as he entered it. 

He did not die at once and, the Khalife having 
hastened to his side, he asked him to punish the 
supposed instigator of the crime, an aunt of 
El 'Aded. This princess was executed then and 
there, before the dying man's eyes ; some 
historians seem to hint that she was a scapegoat 
and that the Khalife himself had a hand in the 
matter. Ibn Ruzziq also had time to see his son, 
named Ruzziq, as Talayeh's father had been, 
appointed Wazir in his place, and to express his 
regrets, firstly, that he had not conquered Jerusa- 
lem and exterminated the Franks ; secondly, 
that he had appointed Shawar as Governor of 
Upper Egypt (and, indeed, Shawar lived to 
depose and murder Ruzziq ibn Talayeh, and 
was instrumental in bringing about the fall of 
the Fatimite Dynasty and the re-establishment 
of the Sunnite instead of the Shiite doctrines) ; 
and thirdly, that he had built his mosque close 
to the city gates, which caused it to be utilised 
in military operations. 



His purpose in building it had been to provide 
a shrine for the remains of the martyr Hussein, 
so deeply revered by the Shiites, which lay buried 
at Ascalon. 1 Seeing the Franks coming nearer to 
that town, Es Saleh had these remains transferred 
to Cairo . However, when his mosque was finished, 
the young Khalife El Faiz objected to the relics 
of the saint being placed there, declaring that 
only in a Khalife 's palace could they be suitably 
interred. Talayeh, who was, no doubt, powerful 
enough to have his own way, deferred to the 
wishes of the epileptic child who died within 
a few months and the Meshhed or sanctuary 
called El Hassanein was built near the palace, on 
the site of the present mosque of Sayedna Hussein, 
to receive the holy relics. Meanwhile, he com- 
pleted his mosque and provided it with a cistern fed 
by a water wheel, which pumped up the Nile water 
from the Khalig ; it was not preached in until the 
reign of El Muezz Aybek, a hundred years later. 

In 1302, the great earthquake which worked 
such havoc in Cairo monuments, did not spare 

1 A relic of the mausoleum at Ascalon in which the head 
of Hussein had been enshrined still exists in the Haram 
mosque at Hebron, in the form of a magnificent minbar 
(pulpit) of geometrical woodwork. This minbar was made 
for the mosque at Ascalon by order of Badr el Gamaly and 
is dated 494 A.H. 



the Fatimite mosque ; a popular legend attributes 
the damage to the monument's own indignation 
at being deprived of the honour of housing the 
holy martyr's remains, but gives no explanation 
of the falling in of other mosques. Whilst the 
Emir Selar undertook to repair El Azhar and 
Beybars el Gashenkir the mosque of El Hakim, 
Seif ed Din Bektimur, Gukandar or polo-master 
at the court of Mohammed en Nasser, took 
charge of Saleh Talayeh's. He endowed it with 
a very beautiful pulpit and took care to record 
by an inscription that he had paid for it out 
of his own pocket and in order to make him- 
self agreeable to God. Like the older minbar at 
Qus 1 and that which Lagin placed in the mosque 
of Ibn Tulun, it is made up of small geometrical 
panels, delicately carved, and is without the side 
door which is to be found in later pulpits and 
which somewhat breaks up the design. 

The keel-shaped stilted arches, of the kind 
commonly called Fatimite or Persian, are decorated 
with very fine stucco inscriptions in late Kufic. 

1 Qus, a town in the province of Miniya, Upper Egypt, of 
which Saleh Talayeh was at one time Governor. An ancient 
mosque, many times restored, in the centre of the town, 
contains a very fine minbar, bearing the date 550 and the 
name of El Malek es Saleh. It is a masterpiece of wood- 
work in the Ayubite style. 




This script, sometimes called Karmatic (though 
without much justification), is here seen in its 
most ornamental form, and is the more interesting 
that the Naskhy form of Arabic writing was 
introduced from Syria by Saladin in the next 
few years and found its place in every monu- 
ment later in date than Talayeh's mosque. The 
arches are connected with each other by wooden 
beams, as is usually the case, and this detail, 
which to my mind often disfigures an arcade, 
becomes in this case an additional ornament, 
the wood being covered with delicate carving. 
The centre arch is broader than the others, a 
nave effect being produced. The outer wall 
was pierced by beautiful open-work stucco win- 
dows, of which important traces remain in the 
south-east wall ; the finest specimen was removed 
to the Arab museum, and I have been able to 
obtain a photograph of it through the kindness of 
the Curator, Aly Bey Bahgat. The general plan 
of the mosque was evidently the usual one, with 
a central court or sahn surrounded by four 
porticoes, three of which are now destroyed. 

The mosque has until lately been crowded and 
suffocated with hovels which have invaded the 
interior even; the Comite de Conservation des 



Monuments Arabes has now begun clearing 
these away with the result that a most interesting 
discovery was made, viz: that the monument 
originally stood on a basement of vaulted shops 
and that access to it was obtained by a flight of 
stone steps leading up from the street to the main 
entrance. The level of the street had risen so 
much that this very effective feature had entirely 
disappeared. Apparently it must have existed, 
though equally unsuspected, in other mosques, for 
excavations round the mosque of Serghatmish, 
below that of Ibn Tulun, led to a similar dis- 
covery that of very steep stone steps leading up to 
the base of the characteristic minaret of the latter. 
It is probable that a great deal more original 
work will be found in the course of cleaning 
Es Saleh's monument ; already two doors with 
scalloped edges have emerged, one of which can 
be seen in the photograph. A fine band of 
historical inscription which ran round the north 
and west fa$ades and of which Professor Van 
Berchem could only read a part, the rest being 
hidden, will now appear in its entirety, perhaps 
even continuing on the south side. The minaret 
has been many times restored, and the upper part 
of it, from the gallery, is Turkish and quite recent. 




VISITORS in Cairo who are interested 
in Arab art and Mameluke architecture 
seldom fail to become acquainted with 
the principal monuments in the Suq en Nahassin ; 
i.e. the tomb of Qalaun and the college of Barquq ; 
they are not difficult to find, and their vicinity to 
the entrance of the Khan Khalily gives them an 
additional chance against being overlooked. The 
madrassa or college of Es Saleh Negm ed Dm 
Ayub, however, suffered so much from neglect 
before it came under the supervision of the 
Comite de Conservation des Monuments Arabes that 
there is not much left of it to interest anyone 
who has not made a special study of the subject. 
Though intended to form an organic whole, it 
consisted in reality of two colleges : the south 
madrassa and the north madrassa ; and a corridor 
divided the two, as is the case with the mosque 



and mausoleum of Qalaun, on the other side of 
the road. 

The principal door, surmounted by a handsome 
minaret, formed the entrance of this corridor, and 
the two are the least damaged part of the struc- 
ture ; under the minaret, a portion remains of 
a rich wooden ceiling in octagonal caissons, not 
unlike the remains still to be found in the mosque 
of En Nasser on the citadel and in the ruined 
palace of Beshtak, in this very neighbourhood. 

Absolutely nothing remains of the south ma- 
drassa, save the lower part of the outer wall, 
against which houses and shops have amassed 
themselves, and now form part of the Shoe Bazaar. 
Of the north college there remains the large 
waggon vault of the west liwdn, still used for 
worship, although uncared for, with that strange 
mixture of piety and indifference which is charac- 
teristic of Cairo Moslems. A very inadequate 
ablution fountain has been cleared for use in the 
centre of a yard almost blocked by debris and 
refuse of all sorts, and, across this heaped-up space, 
ruined portions of the east liwdn can be seen : 
the springing of the great arch and three mihrdbs 
(prayer-niches) now devoid of any ornament. 

Outside, the fa9ade of the madrassa is still visible 





and very interesting to students on account of 
the link which it forms in the history of architec- 
ture between Fatimite monuments such as the 
charming little mosque of El Aqmar and the 
great buildings of the fourteenth century. Some 
beautiful decorative motifs still adorn that part 
of the facade which touches the porch ; the other 
extremity, where it joins the Sultan's mausoleum, 
built some ten years later, is hidden by a very 
graceful Turkish monument, the sebil kuttdb, 
erected by Khosrow Pasha, who also superin- 
tended the building of the pretty little Turkish 
mosque on the Citadel, usually called Sidi Sariya. 
Though there is so little architecture left of the 
once grandiose college mosque of Saleh Negm ed 
Din, the history of its founder and of his cele- 
brated spouse, Queen Shagarat ed Durr, is one 
of the most interesting in the mediaeval chronicles 
of Egypt. A son of the great El Kamel (and per- 
haps a grandson of Saladin, for El Kamel had 
married Saladin's only daughter, Munissa, though 
I do not know whether she was Es Saleh 's mother), 
so well known in European history by his wars 
and negotiations with the Crusaders, Saleh 's 
youth was entirely overshadowed by the struggle 
between Moslems and Christians ; at the age 



of fifteen, he was handed over to the Franks by 
his father as a hostage, in exchange for the 
Pope's legate, to guarantee the execution of the 
treaty according to which Damietta was evacuated 
by the Crusaders. El Kamel's death left him in 
possession of some parts of Mesopotamia, whilst 
his elder brother, El 'Adel II, was master of 
Egypt, and the Emir Yunis, who assumed the 
royal title of "El Guad " became prince of 
Syria. Negm ed Dm immediately formed the 
intention of supplanting his brother, and, as a 
preliminary manoeuvre began by persuading 
Yunis to exchange his Syrian principality for 
Es Saleh's Mesopotamian inheritance, the object 
of the latter being to find himself sufficiently 
near to entertain some intrigues in Egypt. In 
this he succeeded so fully that, when El 'Adel 
marched against him in 1237, it was to find him- 
self surrounded with traitors who arrested and 
deposed him, and then called upon Saleh to come 
and take possession of the throne. Whatever 
promises the new Sultan may have made to the 
treacherous Emirs, he certainly did not keep 
them, for, no sooner was he firmly established on 
the throne than he had every one of them arrested 
and deprived of his rank and power. 


He created on this occasion an entirely new 
corps of Mamelukes or white slaves, strong, 
handsome young men from the territory of 
Kipchak, and gave this new bodyguard the 
name of halqa or " belt " ; he did not lodge 
them near his predecessor's palace on the 
Citadel, but built for them a castle or barracks 
on the island of Roda ; hence the name of 
Baharites (from the river) given to these Mame- 

The Emir Yiinis, who seems to have been 
innocent of any treachery towards either of the 
Ayubite princes, was deprived by Saleh of the 
Mesopotamian provinces which he had been 
persuaded to accept, and forbidden access to 
Egypt. The unhappy man sought refuge with 
the Franks at Acca ; the latter, after charging 
him with a heavy price for their protection, sold 
him to Ismail, Prince of Damascus, who put him 
to death. 

Further negotiations ensued between the Cru- 
saders and the Prince of Damascus, and a coalition 
was formed between them and other members 
of Negm ed Din's family which would probably 
have overcome the latter if he had not called in 
to his aid a nomad horde from Inner Asia, the 


Kharizmians, who turned the balance in his 
favour. With their assistance he conquered 
Ghazza, Jerusalem, which had been handed over 
to the Franks by their Syrian allies, and all the 
fortified places on the seashore ; he sent many 
prisoners to Cairo and a collection of Christian 
heads with which to decorate the gates of the 
city. This victory, though great, was not decisive, 
and three years later, in 1247, Saleh was at 
Damascus at the head of his troops, when he 
was recalled to Cairo by the news that the French, 
under St. Louis, had undertaken the ninth 
Crusade and landed in Egypt. The Sultan, very 
ill at the time, was unable to ride ; he had to be 
carried all the way from Damascus to Cairo in a 
litter. He seems to have been suffering from 
tuberculosis and from a malignant ulcer on one 
leg, and he bore the wearying pain which this 
must have caused with admirable fortitude. A 
weaker man would have remained in his capital 
and sent another commander to lead an army 
against the invaders, but he had himself carried 
to a camp on the Ashmun canal, from which he 
organised the defence. A renowned tribe of 
Bedawin, the Beni Kananeh, were chosen to 
garrison Damietta, and an advanced guard, under 





the Emir Fakhr ed Din, waited on the shore. 
This advanced guard must have presented a very 
fine appearance, for the French chronicler Join- 
ville, whose account of the ninth Crusade makes 
such fascinating reading, declares that " we found 
the Soldan's whole army on the shore ; they were 
very fine people to look at, for the Soldan wore a 
golden armour on which the sun shone resplen- 

Joinville evidently took the Emir Fakhr ed 
Din for the Sultan, who was lying ill in his tent 
near the Ashmun Canal ; the Mameluke historian, 
Gamal ed Din Abul Mohassen, writes that " ex- 
treme insubordination prevailed in the army on 
account of the king's illness and nobody could 
control the soldiers." Both Joinville and Abul 
Mohassen agree that the Saracens offered little 
or no resistance and turned tail after a very few 
moments. Fakhr ed Din led his army back in 
the night to the Sultan's camp, making no attempt 
to defend Damietta, in fact passing the town 
without stopping ; the Beni Kenaneh, seeing 
themselves abandoned, were seized with panic 
and fled, followed by the inhabitants of Damietta, 
who had only too much cause to remember a 
former invasion of the town by the Crusaders, 
c 17 


St. Louis and his army entered the town without 
striking a blow, taking possession of all that Saleh 
had gathered there to prepare the town for a 
protracted siege. 

It was a terrible disappointment for the dying 
Sultan, and he hastened to visit it on the white- 
livered garrison, after having salved his con- 
science by obtaining from the Sheykhs, who were 
his advisers in religious law, a unanimous opinion 
that a soldier who deserted his post deserved to 
lose his life. Every one of the Beni Kenaneh 
chiefs was hanged, and Maqrizy even relates that 
one of them, who had with him a beloved son, 
was not allowed to die first but forced to witness 
the boy's execution. 

Negm ed Din did not live more than a few 
months after that, but succumbed to the illness 
which had caused him so much suffering. Shortly 
before his death he desired to see every man who 
considered that he had some grievance against 
him and gave orders that the wrongs of each be 
redressed. He died at the age of forty, in Novem- 
ber, 1247, under the walls of El Mansura, where 
he had encamped after the Damietta disaster. 
This city had been built by his father, El Kamel, 
and he himself had endowed it with a mosque of 
which nothing now remains. 





THE death of Sultan Negm ed Din left 
his army, and, in fact, the whole of 
Egypt, in the greatest danger, and it is 
probable that St. Louis and his Crusaders would 
have conquered the country with little difficulty 
if they had realised their opportunity and pushed 
their advantage farther instead of lingering 
foolishly and only reaching El Mansura two whole 
months after their victory at Damietta. 

Though the Franks did not know it, Saleh's 
turbulent Mamelukes were without a leader ; he 
had named no successor, and his natural heir, 
his son Turin Shah, was at that time in the far 
distant town of Hisn Kayfa, on the River Tigris ; 
his second son, Khalil, was only a baby. How- 
ever, the Emirs themselves were as ignorant as 
the enemy of the true state of things. Although 
Es Saleh had left no son on the spot to rule over 
them, he had left a widow, Princess Shagarat 1 ed 

1 See A. de Merionec, Chagaratt-Ouddour, in the Bulletin 
de rinstitut Egyptien, 1888. 



Durr (tree, or spray of pearls) , and she, by her 
amazing intelligence and strength of will, saved 
the situation. Assisted by the Emir Fakhr ed Din, 
who commanded the army, the eunuch Gamal ed 
Din Mohsen, and a slave called Suheyl, she 
decided to keep the Sultan's death a secret until 
the arrival of Turan Shah, to whom she had 
hastened to send a messenger. It was no new 
thing for her to wield sovereign authority ; her 
husband, who had the greatest confidence in her 
judgment, referred to her in everything, and she 
had been left in Cairo as Regent during most of 
his campaigns. 

It is not the least attractive point in the charac- 
ter of this extraordinary woman that she was 
always perfectly content with the actual power she 
possessed, and seemed to have no desire for the 
appearance of it. Originally a slave of Turcoman 
origin, like Saleh's halqa or body-guard of Mame- 
lukes, her singular beauty and intelligence had 
induced the Sultan to marry her, and she had 
given him one son, little Khalil. She had followed 
her husband on this campaign, probably on 
account of his severe illness, and it is obvious 
that she had been holding the reins of authority 
for some time before his death. 



According to Maqrizy, largely quoted by the 
modern European historians who have yielded to 
the desire to repeat this romantic tale, Shagarat 
ed Durr had the body of the Sultan secretly 
washed, probably embalmed, and placed in a 
coffin, and she herself, with her little boy and a 
few trusty retainers, sailed up the Nile with it in 
a small boat and laid it in a vault of the Castle 
of Roda. It remained there until the year 1250, 
when she transferred it to the mausoleum, which 
she built for him next to his madrassa in the Suq 
el Nahassin. 

In the meanwhile, she concealed his death very 
successfully ; she called an assembly of the princi- 
pal Emirs, and announced to them that the Sultan 
was very seriously ill and wished to delegate his 
authority to his son on his return, with the 
assistance of the Emir Fakhr ed Din as Atabek, 
i.e. Generalissimo and Viceroy. The Emirs 
willingly swore an oath of fealty, as did the 
Governor of Cairo and all persons in authority ; 
decrees were promulgated as emanating from the 
sick Sultan and bearing his signature, a clever 
forgery by Suheyl, the slave, who also signed all 
the current correspondence dictated by the 
princess herself. Food was carefully prepared 



for the royal patient, and taken to his tent ; 
people who wished to see him were asked to 
postpone their visit for a few days, when he would 
no doubt be better able to receive them. Not 
content with managing the ordinary affairs of the 
State, Shagarat ed Durr seems even to have 
directed the military operations, and it was under 
her guidance that the Emir Fakhr ed Din called 
up reinforcements and the fleet from Cairo, 
so that when the Franks reached the north-east 
bank of the Ashmun Canal, a large Moslem force 
was waiting for them on the other side. 

For a few days the two armies, separated 
by the narrow waterway, limited themselves to 
skirmishes, a few prisoners being made every 
day. But, on the Qth February, 1249, a Bedawy 
traitor revealed a ford to the Crusaders who 
crossed the canal so rapidly that the Moslems, 
taken unawares, were unable to oppose them. 
If the Franks had kept together and made the 
attack in force, the battle would have been 
theirs, and Egypt with it ; but Count Robert of 
Artois, St. Louis' younger brother, who com- 
manded the second column, refused to keep his 
place or to wait for the rest and dashed on heed- 
lessly right through the Egyptian camp. The 



Moslems were surprised in their own tents. 
Fakhr ed Din, who was enjoying a bath at the 
time, hastened to mount his horse, but was 
killed in the battle, and many of the Egyptian 
foot-soldiers disbanded and fled. Saleh's highly 
trained halqa of mamelukes, however, rallied 
after the first shock, and, led by the Emir Beybars 
el Bundoqdary, who later became Sultan, charged 
at full gallop on the attacking Franks and broke 
their columns ; a furious battle ensued, in which 
fifteen hundred Crusaders lost their lives and 
which only ceased when the night came. 

Everything went badly for the French after 
that : their army was practically surrounded by 
enemies, and misfortune followed upon mis- 
fortune. The place reeked with dead bodies ; 
St. Louis had hired a hundred natives to clear 
them out, and the work lasted a whole week ; 
the labourers threw the bodies of Moslems into 
the Nile, and buried Christian corpses in one 
huge pit. 

Presently an epidemic fell upon the army, 
already ravaged by scurvy caused by eating 
corpse-fed fish during Lent. 

Joinville, always picturesque in his descrip- 
tions, tells us how, being himself ill in bed, his 



chaplain was celebrating a private Mass for him 
when the poor priest was seized with an attack 
of the malady and looked as if about to faint. The 
seneschal rose from his bed and went to support 
him, and thus he finished his Mass, " but he never 
chanted again, for he died." 

In the Moslem camp, circumstances had 
changed owing to the arrival of Turan Shah, who 
was met by several emirs, his father's death now 
being officially announced . His stepmother grace- 
fully handed to him the authority that she had 
wielded with so much success, and the Mame- 
lukes acknowledged him without any difficulty. 
He seems, however, to have been selfish and 
violent, and after a very few days, he became 
hated of the Emirs, who regretted the rule of 
their master's capable and ingratiating widow. 
Turan Shah was, nevertheless, an efficient general, 
and, after further operations, the French were 
completely defeated and the King made prisoner, 
as well as his principal knights. 

A house still exists at Mansura which is said 
by legend to have been the prison of the saintly 
monarch. Turan Shah afterwards brought his 
prisoners with him to Faraskur, on the Nile, and 
negotiations began, in the course of which the 



amount of St. Louis' ransom was fixed. But 
Turan Shah's violence and debaucheries had 
finally disgusted the Mamelukes, and he sealed 
his own fate by his insolence to his stepmother, 
whom he accused of having squandered the 
treasury of the State. Shagarat ed Durr, rightly 
indignant, complained to the Emirs, who immedi- 
ately decided to slaughter him. 

His murder was attended by horrible circum- 
stances, and the chroniclers gloat over the grue- 
some details of the wretched young man's death. 
Beybars el Bundoqdary, the gallant Emir who 
had led the victorious charge of the Mamelukes 
at El Mansura, dealt him the first blow as he was 
swimming in the Nile, where he had tried to escape 
from his enemies. 

The devout King of France, a prisoner in a 
wooden tower overhanging the river, witnessed 
the whole tragedy, and must have felt thoroughly 
nauseated when one of the murderers, the Emir 
Fares Aqtay, burst into the room where he was 
sitting and offered him the bleeding heart of the 
victim. It has been said that the Mamelukes, 
rather than choose a Sultan from among them- 
selves, invited St. Louis to occupy the empty 
throne and that he refused it, but this seems 



a very unlikely story, and as Marcel, who 
repeats it, does not quote his authority, I have 
no means of investigating the matter. 

The course that they adopted was nearly as 
astonishing ; they decided to enthrone a woman, 
an almost unparalled episode in Moslem history, 1 
and Shagarat ed Durr, who had ruled them so 
cleverly and wisely in fact, was asked to assume 
the royal authority also in name. They were 
even so desirous to please her that they chose as 
atabek, or viceroy, one of themselves, the Emir 
Aybek Ezz ed Din, who was known to be her 
lover. Marcel goes so far as to state that she 
loved him before the death of Es Saleh. We do 

1 A Moslem Princess, of Tartar origin, Balqish Jehan 
Raziya, reigned in Delhi in the same century (1236-1239). 
A daughter of the conqueror Shams ed Din, she was chosen 
as his heir by her father, who pleaded her courage, intelligence, 
and literary attainments to justify his choice. One of her 
brothers, Firuz Shah, happened to be in Delhi when Shams 
ed Din died, and seized upon the throne, but was soon 
deposed by the emirs, who were disgusted by his cowardly 
conduct, and, remembering her father's wish, proclaimed 
Raziya as Sultana. She used to don male attire and to ride 
in person at the head of her troops. In 1239 sne was van " 
quished and assassinated by another brother, Moezz ed 
Din Bahrain Shah. (See E. Blochet : Histoire des Sultans 
Mamelouks, de Moufazzalibn AbilFazdil, Patrologia Orientalis, 
Vol. XII.) 




not know whether her little son, Khalil, was still 
living at the time ; no mention is made of him 
afterwards, and he probably died in his infancy ; 
but it is to be supposed that that was only after 
the Queen had struck some coins (one of them is 
still at the British Museum), on which she styles 
herself Mother of Khalil, the Victorious King, 
an epithet given to sovereigns in their lifetime 
only. Although the Mamelukes made much of 
their new " Sultan, " and her name was men- 
tioned at the Friday prayers in all the mosques, 
Shagarat ed Durr seems to have taken her exalted 
position very calmly and to have applied her- 
self diligently to her duties. First of all, she 
hastened to complete the negotiations with the 
Crusaders, by which a ransom was paid for 
the King of France, Damietta handed over to the 
Moslems, and the remaining prisoners set free. 
She also pushed forward the building of the 
mausoleum of her late husband, which monument 
forms the subject of this chapter. 

It stands at the north end of Es Saleh's college, 
and Maqrizy relates that the hall reserved for 
the Sheykh of the Malakites was pulled down 
in order to make sufficient room for it. Much 
more of it remains than of the adjoining college, 



and it is a very interesting and attractive little 

The upper part of the porch is gone, and the 
vestibule has been rebuilt, but the funeral 
chamber still shows some notable features and 
the dome is intact ; there even remains a good 
deal of the original pierced plaster windows, with 
a few fragments of glass. The mihrdb (prayer- 
niche) is unfortunately denuded of its decoration, 
but it is still flanked by two columns of which the 
remarkable marble always excites curiosity. It is 
a breccia, or compound of a variety of minerals, 
granite, green slate, verde antico marbles, welded 
together by a natural process, with a beautiful 
polished surface. Two other columns, exactly 
like these, frame the wonderful stucco mihrdb of 
Mohammed en Nasser's madrassa on the opposite 
side of the street, built fifty years later. 

A well-known geological expert tells me that 
this is the kind of marble that is found in the 
quarries of Wady el Hamamat, in Upper Egypt, 
and their similarity leads me to think that they 
must have a common origin. Perhaps they all 
four came from the great Fatimite palace on the 
site of which Es Saleh's college was built ; the 
Fatimites, not having so many Mediterranean 



communications as did their successors, who 
imported marble columns and other materials 
from Syria and from the Greek islands, probably 
made more use of Egyptian products ; the name 
of Emerald Palace, given to one of their royal 
dwellings now entirely disappeared would sug- 
gest that the emerald mines were made to con- 
tribute to its embellishment, and Wady el 
Hamamat is on the way to those mines. 

The Sultan's cenotaph is cased in beautiful 
carved wood in Ayubite style, each small panel 
bearing a charming motif in strong relief, and the 
encircling inscription standing boldly out against 
an arabesque background. 




THOUGH the widow of Sultan Saleh 
Negm ed Din Ayub seems in no wise 
to have had her beautiful head turned 
by her elevation to the throne after the murder 
of her brutal stepson, Turan Shah, she neverthe- 
less took steps to justify and consolidate her 
position. She assumed on official documents, 
inscriptions and coins, the name of Umm 
Khalil, to which she was entitled, having borne a 
son to the late Sultan, followed by the adjectives 
Salehiya, an allusion to her having belonged to 
Saleh, and Mostassemiya, the latter intended as 
a delicate flattery to the Abbasside khalife at 
Baghdad, Mostassem b'lllah. 

It was important that she should conciliate 
him ; for, according to custom, the rulers of 
Egypt and other Moslem countries had to 
receive the sanction of Islam's spiritual head 
before their rule was considered as being 



legitimate, and one of the first acts of the Emirs, 
when they placed their queen upon the Sultan's 
throne, was to send dispatches to the Khalife, 
asking for his blessing. Mostassem b'lllah, 
however, indignantly refused to countenance 
this feminist innovation, and replied to the 
Emirs' letter in the following scathing terms : 
:< Since no man among you is worthy of being 
Sultan I will come in person and bring you one. 
Know you not that the prophet may he be 
exalted has said : * Woe unto nations governed 
by woman ? ' 

On receipt of this epistle, Shagarat ed Durr, 
much too wise to manifest any rebellious feeling, 
abdicated in favour of the Regent, Aybek, who 
was proclaimed in great pomp, under the title 
of El Malek el Moezz. Her partisans among 
the Emirs, however, caused him to marry her 
solemnly, and the business of the State continued 
as before, for Shagarat ed Durr's new husband 
was quite content to leave the reins of administra- 
tion in her hands while he enjoyed the honours 
and prerogatives of a reigning Sultan. His 
kingship, however, was not accepted so unanim- 
ously by the Emirs as had been that of his con- 
sort, and the Salehy mamelukes (i.e. those who 


had belonged to Sultan Saleh) compelled him 
to share the throne with a child of eight, named 
Mussa Muzaffar ed Din, a great-grandson of 
El Kamel, whom they brought from the Yemen 
for that purpose and who was crowned under 
the name of El Malek el Ashraf . As time went 
on, however, the position of El Moezz became 
stronger ; he rid himself by assassination of his 
most powerful rival, the Emir Fares ed Din 
Aqtay; his own personal bravery and capable 
generalship, displayed in Syrian wars, earned 
him the devotion of a considerable party of 
Mamelukes, and, finding the royal descent of 
his young partner no longer necessary to support 
his own rule, he deposed the poor little boy and 
shut him up in a prison, where he died. 

He neglected, however, to cultivate the good- 
will of the clever woman whom he had married, 
and to whom he owed his present exalted position. 
Shagarat ed Durr, so philosophically indifferent 
to the visible apparel of power which she had 
twice gracefully surrendered, first to her un- 
worthy stepson, Turan Shah, and then into 
Aybek's own hands, seems to have been a prey 
to fierce jealousy where her wifely prerogatives 
were concerned ; whether from a sensitive regret 




of her waning beauty or whether from a fear of 
losing influence, it is impossible to say. She had 
already caused Aybek to divorce the mother of 
his only son, Aly, a boy of fifteen, and generally 
opposed the idea of political alliances by marriages 
with foreign princesses. Aybek by this time was 
tired of her domination over him and was think- 
ing of having her assassinated, having moreover 
been told by a Court astrologer that he would 
die by the hand of a woman. Maqrizy's account 
of the way in which she discovered that her 
husband was intriguing against her is very 
picturesque. According to him, Aybek, who was 
away at Umm el Barid, sent to the Citadel a group 
of Baharite mamelukes, whom he had arrested 
and who were to be imprisoned there. 

As these men were standing waiting under the 
closed balcony where the Queen often sat, one of 
them, named Idekin, who had held a charge at 
Court, and was acquainted with her habits, 
guessed that she was there ; he bowed his head 
(his hands were probably tied) and said in the 
Turkish language, which was her mother tongue 
as well as his own : " I am the Mameluke 
Idekin, the bashmakdar ; by Allah, Princess, 
we are quite ignorant of the cause of our arrest. 
D 33 


Still, when El Moezz sent to ask for the hand 
of the Princess of Mausul, we expressed our 
disapproval on your account. For we owe 
everything to your kindness and that of your late 
husband. El Moezz, vexed with our reproaches, 
has conceived hatred against us and treated us 
as you perceive. " 

Shagarat ed Durr signed to him, with her 
handkerchief, that she had heard his words, 
and later, when they were all together in the prison, 
Idekin said to his companions : " El Moezz 
has imprisoned us, but we have prepared his 

From Shagarat ed Burr's action after this 
episode, we may conclude that this was the first 
news she had of her husband's intention to marry 
the princess of Mausul, for her jealous fury 
caused this hitherto prudent and diplomatic 
woman to commit herself irreparably. She wrote 
to one of Aybek's Syrian enemies, El Malek en 
Nasser Yussef : " I intend, after putting El 
Moezz to death, to marry you and place you in 
possession of the throne of Egypt." 

En Nasser thought this was some deeply laid 
trap and made no answer, but informed Aybek's 
intended father-in-law, Prince Lulu, of Mausul, 



who warned him to beware of Shagarat ed Durr, 
as she was intriguing with El Malek en Nasser. 
A violent quarrel ensued between husband and 
wife, followed by Aybek's departure from the 
palace at the Citadel for the pleasure-house or 
belvedere of El Luq, which had been erected 
near the polo ground or midan, and where he 
often stayed. After a few days, however, he 
received a messenger from the Queen bearing 
oaths of love and submission, and he allowed 
himself to be persuaded. 

He left the polo ground of Luq late in the 
afternoon, apparently having been playing, and, 
reaching the Citadel towards nightfall, repaired 
at once to the bath. As he entered the bath-hall he 
was seized by five assassins whom his wife had 
placed there to await him. She evidently was 
hiding near by, for when the unfortunate man 
called her loudly to his assistance, she appeared, 
and, her anger melting, ordered the murderers to 
desist ; it was too late, however, and one of them, 
called Mohsen, said to her : " If we spare him 
now, he will spare neither you nor us." 

Faced with the possible consequences of her 
crime, Shagarat ed Durr seems to have tried to 
avert them. She sent one of Aybek's fingers, 



with the ring still on it, to the Great Emir, Ezz 
ed Din el Haleby, with a message offering him 
the throne, but, as Maqrizy writes, " he did not 
dare to take so bold a step." She ordered it 
to be published that the Sultan had died suddenly 
during the night, and some professional weeping 
women were brought into the palace, but El 
Moezz's own Mamelukes refused to believe this 
story, seized some slave women, and extracted 
the truth from them by means of torture. There- 
upon they arrested the Queen and would have 
slain her but for the interference of the Salehy 
Mamelukes, her former companions, who, how- 
ever, could not prevent her being imprisoned in 
the Red Tower. Seeing herself thus fallen into 
the hands of her enemies, she destroyed all she 
could of her pearls and other jewels, by pounding 
them in a mortar. 

The Moezzy Mamelukes placed Prince 'Aly on 
the throne, and his mother, whom Shagarat ed 
Durr had caused Aybek to divorce and who was 
living in retirement, came back to the palace 
in great pomp. The young Sultan handed her 
former rival to her to do what she liked with. 
After striking the deposed Queen and insulting 
her, she had her stripped by her women and 



beaten to death with wooden clogs such as are 
still worn in women's baths. 

The dead body was flung over the walls of the 
citadel a prey to pariah dogs ; as Lane-Poole 
remarks, the end of this woman, who had 
saved Egypt from the Franks, was like that of 
Jezebel. 1 

After a few days her remains were picked up 
in a basket and buried in a small mausoleum 
which she had built for herself during her short 
undivided reign (1250), near the shrine of Sitta 

Though this curious little chapel was neglected 
for centuries, it is now being carefully cleared, 
and the common mosque which had been built 
against it is being pulled down to be replaced by 
a more artistic monument in appropriate style. 
The work of clearing has brought to light some 
very interesting and unusual ornamental devices 
on the south and east fa$ades of the chapel ; the 
dome has a very archaic outline, only to be met 
with in one or two specimens of Ayubite domes in 
Cairo. Inside there is some beautiful plaster work 
with Kufic inscriptions from the Quran over the 
mihrdb and three shallower niches, one at least 

1 History of Egypt in the Middle Ages. Methuen, 1914. 



of which must have been a door originally. The 
mihrdb is lined in its upper part with rich 
Byzantine mosaic in gold and dark colours, and 
constitutes the oldest example in Cairo of that kind 
of decoration ; the others, i.e. in the mosques of 
Qalaun, Ibn Tulun, Taibars and Aqbogha, all 
dating from the fourteenth century. 

The remains of the murdered Queen seem to 
have been placed by her enemies, not in the central 
vault prepared by herself, but under one of the 
niches ; the centre was afterwards used for one 
of the Abbasside khalifes. 

Some damage seems also to have been done 
purposely to the little edifice, inscriptions erased, 
etc., evidently in hatred of the defunct. 

After a long lapse of years traces still remain in 
Egypt of the short but efficient rule of this peer- 
less " Queen of the Moslems." The mahmdl 
or palanquin which accompanies the sacred 
kiswa to Mecca every year is said to be a prototype 
of one in which she accomplished the holy pil- 
grimage. In the chronicles of the Citadel, we 
find references to a kind of nightly military 
concert, called the nauba of the Princess, which 
the learned French archaeologist, Casanova, 
understands to have been instituted by the mother 



of Khalil, a special musical instrument being 
used which bore the name of khaliliya. 

A certain seat in the Hall of Columns was 
called the Princess' mastaba, and apparently it 
was there that she sat, behind a curtain, and held 
levees in connection with the affairs of the king- 
dom, even after she had surrendered the throne 
to her second husband and contented herself 
with reigning under his name instead of her own. 




SAVE for a charming legend, very little but 
his name and the date of his death 
(A.H. 697 A.D. 1297) is known about the 
founder of this beautiful tomb, but his genealogy 
is given by his funeral inscription, and that is 
sufficiently suggestive to enable one's imagination 
to form a fancy picture of this holy man. 

A Sufy, as M. van Berchem can tell us from the 
titles and qualifications of himself and his ancestors, 
he belonged to the Prophet's own tribe of the 
Quraishy and, moreover, was a descendant of the 
Ummayad khalifes, but it is evident that, far 
from trying to gather any advantage from his 
royal pedigree, he lived a quiet and saintly life, 
thinking more of the joys of Paradise than of 
political preferment in this world. 

This family, descended from Ummaya, a notable 
Quraishy and a relative of the Prophet, produced 



no fewer than fourteen khalifes, between the time 
when the ambitious Mu'awiya was elected in the 
place of the murdered 'Aly (A.D. 66 1) and the 
massacre of almost the entire family by Es 
Saffa (the butcher), first Abbasside khalife, in 
750. One of these khalifes, El Walid, is looked 
upon as the builder of the great mosque at 
Damascus, built upon the site of a ruined Byzan- 
tine church of which some material, such as 
columns, etc., were again used for the Moslem 

When the descendants of the Prophet's uncle, 
1 Abbas, overthrew the Ummayad khalife Marwan, 
they attempted to exterminate the whole family 
and very nearly succeeded. According to histo- 
rians, only two escaped. One, to a remote 
corner of Arabia, where his descendants were 
acknowledged as khalifes until the sixteenth 
century ; our holy Sheykh may have descended 
from him. The other, named 'Abd er Rahman, 
had a brilliant destiny. 

" Most of his relations were exterminated by 
the ruthless 'Abbassides ; they were hunted 
down in all parts of the world and slain without 
mercy. 'Abd er Rahman fled like the rest, but 
with better fortune, for he reached the banks 


of the Euphrates in safety. One day, as he sat 
in his tent watching his little boy playing outside, 
the child ran to him in a fright, and, going out to 
discover the cause, 'Abd er Rahman saw the 
village in confusion and the black standards of 
the 'Abbassides on the horizon. Hastily seizing 
up his child, the young prince rushed out of the 
village and reached the river. Here the enemy 
almost came up with them and called out that 
they need have no fear, for no injury would be 
done to them. A young brother who had 
accompanied him, and who was exhausted with 
swimming, turned back, and his head was 
immediately severed from his body ; but 'Abd 
er Rahman held on until he reached the other 
side, bearing his child and followed by his servant 
Bedr. Once more on firm earth they journeyed 
night and day until they reached Africa, where 
the rest of his family joined them and the sole 
survivor of the Ummayad princes had leisure 
to think of his future. . . . His first thoughts 
turned to Africa, for he clearly perceived that the 
success of the 'Abbassides had left him no 
chance in the East ! But after five years of 
wandering about the Barbary coast, he realised 
that the . . . Berbers in the West would not 







willingly surrender their newly-won independence 
for the empty glory of being ruled by an 
Ummayad. His glance was therefore directed 
towards Andalusia ... he sailed for Spain in 
September, 755. The coming of the survivor of 
the Ummayads was like a page of romance, 
like the arrival of the Young Pretender in Scotland 
in 1745. The news spread like a conflagration 
through the land ; the old adherents of the royal 
family hurried to pay him homage ; the 
descendants of the Ummayah freedmen put 
themselves under his orders. . . . Before the year 
was out he was master of all the Mohammedan 
part of Spain and the dynasty of the Ummayads 
of Cordova, destined to endure for nearly three 
centuries, was established." 1 

Very different from that of his illustrious 
kinsman was the life of Sheykh Zein ed Dm ; 
the inscriptions in his mausoleum, which reveal 
his royal genealogy, end by an invocation supposed 
by Professor van Berchem to be a quotation from 
the holy man's dying words : " My sins are too 
numerous to be counted, but Thy forgiveness, 
O my Lord, is immense. What are my sins 

1 Stanley Lane-Poole, The Moors in Spain. " Story of the 
Nations " Series : London, Fisher Unwin. 



and why should I fear them since Thou art my 
God? . . ." 

M. Patricolo, the head architect of the 
Comite de Conservation des Monuments Arabes, 
who has kindly allowed me to see notes, not 
yet published, on this interesting mausoleum, 
quotes the following legend from Es Suyuty's 
'Kawkab es Sayyara : 

" One day that Zein ed Din was travelling in a 
far country, he found himself much incommoded 
by thirst and, on looking round, perceived a 
water bottle hanging in a window and fanned 
by the breeze. He therefore sat himself down to 
watch until some one should come out of the house 
whom he could ask for water, and, being tired 
out, he slept and had a dream. He saw a beautiful 
houri coming towards him. Seized with admira- 
tion for her perfect form, he asked who was her 
possessor and she answered : ' I belong to him 
who has enough self-control to abstain from 
taking water from the water-bottle. 5 He assured 
her that the desire to do so had gone from him, 
and the houri thereupon struck the bottle with 
her sleeve and broke it. The good Sheykh, 
awakened by the shock, thanked God who had 
vouchsafed to quench his thirst by the sight of 





a lovely houri instead of a cupful of cold water. 
After that dream Zein ed Dm was given the name 
of ' the Houri's Friend.' " 

The author speaks with much respect of the 
fervent piety of the Sheykh, who seems to have 
travelled a great deal, and to have been, in fact, 
a sort of missionary. His grandfather, the 
Sheykh Uday a Sufy like himself appears also 
to have had a great renown for sanctity, and 
his name, slightly disfigured, has been given by 
popular tradition to the tomb, long known as 
" Sidi Ulay." The mausoleum is to be found on 
the right hand or west side of the tramline lead- 
ing from the Midan er Rumeyla to the Mosque 
of the Imam Shafey ; it stands on a much lower 
level than the road, and an iron paling has been 
put up to protect it. A remarkable feature, which 
always excites curiosity, is that a monumental 
porch, on a line with the entrance of the 
mausoleum, stands alone, like a triumphal arch, 
disconnected from any building. M. Patricolo 
explains that this porch is all that remains of a 
zawiya, or chapel, which was built against the 
mausoleum forty years later on the poorest 
foundations ; he adds that the survival of the 
porch was nothing less than miraculous. 



Zein ed Din's own madrassa consists of a sahn 
with four liwdns ; the domed tomb-chamber 
adjoins it in the south-west corner. Around 
the four ttwdns runs one of the most beautiful 
stucco inscriptions in Cairo ; it has been carefully 
cleansed from the accumulated dust of centuries 
by a miraculously skilful old Egyptian artisan 
whose work in other monuments I have often 
had occasion to admire. The same charming 
lace work is to be seen in the mihrdb, and it is not 
surprising to hear that photographs of the detail 
are being used as models by the lace workers 
of H.H. Sultan Fouad's School of Feminine 
Industries in Alexandria. 

On entering the exquisite dome, the unpre- 
pared visitor is shocked to see traces of destruction 
by fire, and the feelings of regret and indignation 
become all the greater on hearing the explanation. 
Before the year 1907, this monument was not 
included in the list of those which are in the hands 
of the Ministry of Waqfs, but was supposed to 
be kept up by a private endowment, and the 
man who was in charge of it, an ignorant brute, 
found the supervision of the Comite extremely 
irksome. Thinking to rid himself of it once and 
for all, he deliberately set fire to the building ! . . . 



The chapel formerly contained a specimen of 
the rare and incomparable Ayubite wood-carving, 
a tabut or wooden cenotaph in the style of that 
of the Imam Shafey. A description of it, with 
a copy of the inscription, had fortunately been 
recorded by Yussef Effendi Ahmed, the learned 
epigraphist ot the Comite, but that only increases 
our sense of loss. 

A fine wooden frieze, perhaps painted, was 
also completely burnt, and much damage was 
done to the coloured glass windows, stucco 
decorations and marble mosaics. Fortunately 
the dome itself is intact, and the accompanying 
photograph gives some idea of its graceful 
proportions and the superb inscription which 
encircles its base. The interior of it is much 
more highly decorated than is usual. 1 

A large rose in the centre forms the starting 
point of rays in relief, separated from each other 
by deep angular grooves. These ribs may be an 
imitation in brickwork of earlier or contempor- 
aneous wooden domes, such as that of the Church 
of the Holy Sepulchre as completed by Modestus 

1 A picture of it, wrongly labelled " Dome of the chapel of 
the Imam Shafey," is to be found in M. Saladin's Architecture 
(Manuel de FArt Musulman), p. 101. 



and afterwards destroyed by Chosroes that 
of the Qubbet es Sakhra at Jerusalem (built by 
Abd el Malek in 691) the original dome of the 
Imam Shafey's mausoleum, afterwards renewed 
by Qaitbay, and later, that ot the Mosque of 
Mohammed en Nasser at the Citadel (735 A.D.) and 
that of the hanafiya in Sultan Hassan's mosque. 

The whole surface, the frames of the twenty 
windows, the three courses of stalactites, etc., all 
is decorated in the most finished and intricate 
geometrical designs from which curves are 
practically absent, intermixed with Coranic 
inscriptions ; the general effect is at the same 
time subdued and wonderfully rich. 

While deploring the barbarous and idiotic 
damage done, we cannot be too thankful that so 
much remains of this little work of art, and much 
credit is due to the Comite's workmen for the 
admirable way in which the repairs have been 
carried out. 



THE old chroniclers to whom we owe 
all we know of the history of the Middle 
Ages in Egypt abound in striking human 
details which make their descriptions delightfully 
real. It is true that many of them are only known 
to a restricted circle of readers on account of the 
difficulties of the Arabic language, but Maqrizy, 
perhaps the most graphic of them all, has been 
in part translated and much pleasure can be 
derived from reading him under the guise of 
Quatremere's Histoire des Sultans Mamelouks. 
His account of the court of Cairo during the second 
reign of Mohammed en Nasser (1298-1308) 
contains many horrible stories of murder and 
torture, but it is only when we turn to equally 
blood-curdling tales of what was going on in 
France under Philippe le Bel and in England 
under Edward I, that we realise the necessity 
of making allowances for mediaeval darkness, 
E 49 


so modern does Saracen civilisation appear to 
us as pictured by its historians. 

Among the many lifelike figures taking part 
in the dramatic events of that time which are 
presented to us by Maqrizy, and afterwards by 
Ibn lyas, who takes up the thread of the narrative, 
the two great emirs, Selar the Viceroy and 
Beybars el Gashenkir (i.e. Taster, afterwards 
Ostadar or Master of the Royal Household), hold 
the first rank. 

We are even given a description of their 
personal appearance : Selar, of Tartar origin, 
dark-skinned, with black piercing eyes, a tuft of 
beard on his chin, short and somewhat heavily 
built ; Beybars, a Circassian, fair-skinned and 
blue-eyed, tall and graceful, " a worthy Sultan " 
says the Arab writer, after enumerating many 
cruelties and acts of treachery. They were both 
promoted to high places on the very day when 
the young Mohammed returned from exile. 

He was only fourteen at the time (A.D. 1298), 
and it is perhaps not surprising that he should 
have been kept from exercising any real authority. 
Beybars and Selar directed everything, not only 
at first, when the young Sultan was little more 
than a child, but later, after he had victoriously 



commanded troops in Syrian wars. They kept 
him in such subjection and had so little considera- 
tion for his personal comfort that he could not 
even procure delicacies for his own table, a fact 
which seems to have rankled bitterly in his mind. 

Both men appear to have been cruel and 
unscrupulous, and we find on many pages stories 
of tortured slaves and wholesale executions. 
Beybars showed " very laudable zeal and firm 
resolution " in carrying out edicts against Jews 
and Christians (1301), according to which they 
were to wear coloured turbans and, in the baths, 
a bell hanging round their necks ; to abstain from 
riding horses, carrying arms, walking in the centre 
of the road, possessing Moslem slaves, marrying 
Moslem women, etc. etc. 

These edicts were enforced throughout Egypt 
and Syria, save in the towns of Karak and Shubak, 
where the great majority of the population were 
Christians. Beybars also abolished a Christian 
feast, called the Martyr's feast, which used to 
take place at Shubak every year, and, though his 
decision caused much sorrow among the Chris- 
tians, it is impossible not to applaud it, if we are 
to believe Maqrizy's description of the orgies 
to which it gave occasion. It is evident that 


disreputable scenes were but too frequent at that 
time, for, speaking of the rejoicings which took 
place in Cairo to celebrate the Sultan's return 
after a victorious campaign against the Mongols, 
Maqrizy avers that : " scenes of profligacy and 
drunkenness were carried to a point past de- 

These unholy revels were interrupted very 
dramatically by one of the most terrible earth- 
quakes on record (1302). To quote Lane-Poole's 
(abridged) rendering : 

" The oscillation, the cracking of walls, the fall 
of houses and mosques, caused a frantic panic. 
Women rushed about unveiled and gave birth to 
premature infants. Men saw their houses 
crumbling to the ground and everything they 
possessed lost ; or, flying in amazement, left their 
homes to be rifled by thieves. The Nile threw 
its boats a bow-shot on the land. The population 
encamped outside the city, trembling for the fall 
of the heavens and the end of the world. The 
earthquake was felt all through Egypt, and 
injured Alexandria as well as Qus ; Damascus 
and Akka experienced the shock. Cairo, after 
the earthquake, looked like a city that had been 
wrecked by a conquering army." 


("""I'J- *v^ 



The great mosques suffered severe damage, 
and the principal Emirs vied with each other in 
restoring them at their own expense. Beybars 
undertook the restoration of the Fatimite mosque 
of El Hakim ; we are told that he visited it 
immediately after the earthquake and showed 
much concern at the destruction which had 
taken place. 

His restorations have been recorded else- 
where ; l it is interesting to note the similarity 
of the new summits which he placed on El 
Hakim's minarets and that of his own khanqa 
or convent, in the Gamaliya Street. A few 
minarets of this design still remain in Cairo and 
they all date from the same period, one of the 
most interesting being that of the tomb mosque 
of the Emirs Selar and Sangar el Gawly, de- 
scribed in the next chapter. Beybar's khanqa 
was the second monastery built in Cairo and is 
now the oldest, the first founded by Saladin 
having disappeared. This one was saved from 
utter ruin by the care of the Comite de Conserva- 
tion des Monuments de VArt Arabe, about twenty- 
five years ago. It was intended for Sufy monks, 
and their cells took up a good deal of the space. 
1 See Rambles in Cairo, p. 19. 



Beybars endowed the foundation with an unalien- 
able waqf in favour of the Sufy community, of 
whom no fewer than four hundred religious 
were to be accommodated. 

His own tomb was under an adjoining cupola ; 
it is, in my opinion, the most impressively 
beautiful of the domed mausoleums in Cairo. 
Perhaps the way in which the light falls from above 
on the solitary marble cenotaph and makes it 
stand out amid the darkness of the funeral 
chamber is really the explanation of this almost 
supernatural beauty ; I sincerely hope that no 
side windows will be cleared in order to bring in 
more light. But, apart from any theatrical 
lighting effects, the chapel presents some very 
fine features ; the marble facings and mosaics 
are unusually bold in design and the dome rests 
on a very perfect system of stalactites framing 
pierced plaster windows of a remarkably delicate 

The porch of the monument is unlike almost 
any other in Cairo, though similar torus mould- 
ings framing a rounded arch are to be found in 
many Crusaders' buildings in Syria. The in- 
scription offers a special historical interest which 
is explained by the end of the Gashenkir's story. 



In the year 1307, the young Sultan, sick to 
death of the fetters in which he was kept, 
announced his intention of accompanying the 
holy pilgrimage with his family. He imparted 
this design to Beybars and Selar, who approved 
the idea, as also did Beybars' numerous partisans, 
for reasons of their own. All the Emirs hastened 
to offer magnificent presents for the journey, 
and letters were sent to the various halting places 
on the way, ordering all preparations to be made. 

As the Prince, escorted by his suite, left Cairo, 
he was accompanied by weeping crowds who 
followed him as far as Birket el Hag. Beybars and 
Selar did likewise, but their pride and arrogance 
had reached such a point that they bade farewell 
to the Sultan without dismounting from their 
horses, after which they turned back towards 

The Sultan with his suite arrived as far as 
Karak, where the Governor, the Emir Akush, 
gave him the best reception he could. En 
Nasser settled down comfortably in this very 
strongly fortified town and then announced to the 
Emirs who had accompanied him that he intended 
to remain quietly there and give up his throne, 
" which," he added, " Beybars el Gashenkir has 



already usurped. " He then exchanged somewhat 
bitter letters with Beybars and Selar, who, though 
violently jealous of each other, were united in 
wishing him to confirm his abdication. Selar, 
recognising that Beybars' adherents were more 
numerous than his own, proposed his rival as 
Sultan, and, after some show of reluctance, the 
latter accepted, Selar himself remaining Viceroy 
as before. . . . 

But the Gashenkir was not destined to remain 
long on the throne ; he was hated by the people, 
who clung to the son of Qalaun, hoping he might 
return to them. Some popular poet having 
composed a comic and slightly disrespectful 
topical song with a play on the new Sultan's name, 
he flew into a violent rage and had about three 
hundred persons arrested for singing this song, 
and their tongues cut out. He also arrested and 
imprisoned several Emirs on the charge of writing 
conspiring letters to the late Sultan at Karak. 
Meanwhile, Mohammed began to regret having 
left his people to such a man and to intrigue to 
recover his throne. Soon a general revolt arose 
in Syria, and Beybars found he must defend his 
position. Aided by Selar, who remained faithful 
to him, he attempted to organise resistance, 



but defections met him at every step, and the 
Emirs advised him to write to En Nasser and to 
solicit from him a post in some distant province. 
Beybars, " boiling with rage," followed this 
counsel and abdicated, sending two Emirs with a 
letter to Mohammed en Nasser. He took with 
him most of the royal treasure and three squadrons 
of cavalry, and prepared to leave the town. 
So much was he hated of the people that they 
assembled at the city gate when they heard of his 
impending departure and tried to stone him ; 
he only saved his life by flinging money among 

He fled towards Assuan. As he reached the 
neighbourhood of Akhmim he was rejoined by 
two Emirs, sent by the Sultan, who succeeded 
by wiles in detaching from him the mamelukes 
who had accompanied him, and also in taking 
from him the treasure and the fine horses which 
he had appropriated. They then ordered him 
to retire to Karak, promising to send his children 
to join him, and, although he obeyed all these 
orders, another envoy from En Nasser arrested 
him near Suez and brought him back by night to 
Cairo, where he was imprisoned in the Citadel. 
Mohammed himself went into his prison when the 



morning came, and, after reproaching him 
bitterly, had him strangled in his presence. 
When he was dead, the Sultan sent to inform his 
wife and ordered that he be buried in the cemetery. 
This was done, but, a short time later, some of 
the Emirs obtained from the Sultan permission 
to bury him in his own khanqa. 

In his bitter hatred against the usurper, En 
Nasser ordered his royal title " El Muzaffar " to 
be hammered out of the inscription which runs 
along the beautiful and unique porch of the 

After a few years (1326), the monastery, which 
had been closed at the fall of its founder, was 
re-opened by En Nasser and a great many Sufy 
monks w r ere harboured therein. 




IN the midst of the turmoil of foreign wars, 
private quarrels and wholesale executions 
which make up the history of Mohammed 
En Nasser's second reign, the Mosque el Gawliya 
stands as a record of a long and faithful human 
friendship. The twin domes of the two Emirs 
buried there and its unusual position on the side 
of a hill make its outlines quite different from 
any other, and it is full of special interest for the 
architect as well as the historian. 

The Emir Selar, whose remains occupy the 
tomb lying under the higher of the two domes, 
was the man whose history is closely interwoven 
with that of Beybars el Gashenkir and who has 
therefore been the subject of various references 
in the preceding chapter. 

Historians frequently draw a parallel between 
the two men and, even apart from the pleasant 
picture offered by his friendship with Sangar el 



Gawly, Selar's seems to have been, on the whole, 
a less unsympathetic personality than his rival's. 
He was of Tartar blood and had amassed, by un- 
certain and somewhat doubtful means, an enor- 
mous private fortune, which enabled him to 
satisfy his tastes for barbaric splendour and which 
makes the manner of his death all the more 

Such was his taste for dress that he originated 
fashions in clothes, and Ibn lyas, writing in the 
sixteenth century, averred that a certain kind of 
vest was still called silariya after him. He also 
seems to have had a vast hareem, for the same 
chronicler states that he was rich in children 
beyond counting ; one of his daughters, being 
given in marriage to a nephew of the Sultan, a 
grandson of Qalaun, received a dowry of one 
hundred and sixty thousand gold dinars. 

Though so wealthy, he was no miser, but gave 
much away in charities and was very much pre- 
ferred to Beybars by the people ; En Nasser 
himself hated them both equally, neither of them 
having apparently troubled to try to obtain his 
goodwill. Selar, however, was jealous enough 
of outside influence over the young Sultan for, 
having ascertained that the Wazir Esh Sheykhy 




an upstart whose promotion had taken place 
against Selar's wishes had been advising En 
Nasser to shake off his tutelage, he had him 
cruelly put to death. He and his devoted friend, 
Sangar el Gawly, procured a clever Copt who 
trumped up a charge of embezzlement against 
the unhappy wazir. Beybars, approached by 
some of his own relations, who were friends of 
Esh Sheykhy, interceded in his favour, but 
seeing that Selar was bent on his destruction, 
went away on the pilgrimage for the second time. 
Immediately after his departure, Selar had the 
wretched wazir flogged until he died under the 

Other actions recorded by Maqrizy show 
Selar in a more favourable light. On the occasion 
of his pilgrimage to Mecca, it is said that he 
performed many honourable acts in the province 
of the Hedjaz. For instance, he had a list drawn 
up of the pilgrims who were in retirement at 
Mecca and paid off all the debts they had incurred ; 
he distributed among the poor the whole cargo 
of several ships which he had equipped and sent 
to Jeddah, and he treated the poor of Medina 
with equal munificence. At the same time, some 
nomad Arabs having robbed pilgrims of their 



camels, he pursued the robbers, made fifty of 
them prisoners and had their hands and feet 
cut off. 

Among other pious works, Selar's share of the 
rebuilding of mosques after the great earthquake 
was an important one ; he restored both the 
ancient mosque of 'Amr ibn el Aas at Fostat and 
the holy university of El Azhar. 

According to Maqrizy, it was in the year 1307 
that dissensions began to occur between Beybars 
and Selar, and it was the latter 's affection for 
Sangar el Gawly which was the initial cause, for, 
Sangar having had a violent dispute with a protege 
of Beybars, each of the two great Emirs sided 
with his own partisan and personal animosity 
soon arose between them. Selar seems to have 
done his best to smooth matters over ; he per- 
suaded El Gawly to wait upon Beybars and to 
endeavour to appease him with soft words, but 
when this failed, and Beybars only received Sangar 
with insults and vituperation, Selar was deeply 
offended. He and Beybars had been in the habit 
of riding out together every day, but this was 
now discontinued and each went out separately, 
accompanied by his adherents. " Every one," 
says Maqrizy, " was expecting trouble." 




However, Selar made one more effort to con- 
ciliate Beybars, reminding him that he and 
Sangar el Gawly were such close friends that each 
had chosen the other to care for his children 
should he predecease him. Beybars would hear 
nothing and declared that if Sangar could not 
repay the moneys that he was falsely accused 
of appropriating, he would have him die the same 
death as Esh Sheykhy. Sangar proceeded to sell 
his possessions horses, clothes, furniture, etc., 
near the Qulla gate, and many Emirs, professing 
to be grieved at his misfortune and really desirous 
of obtaining the powerful Selar's favour, bought 
these at prices far above their real value, intending 
to return them to the owner when the latter would 
be reinstated in Beybars' good graces. 

Things remained tense for some time ; Beybars 
and Selar did not speak to each other and most 
of the Mameluke Emirs wore hidden weapons 
under their clothing in case of a sudden outbreak 
of hostilities. 

At last Beybars relented, up to a certain point. 
El Gawly was released, but exiled to Syria, where 
he was given a military post. A great recon- 
ciliation took place after his departure between 
Beybars and Selar, and they were brought 



nearer to each other by the discovery of a plot 
prepared by the Sultan to get rid of them both. 
It was Selar, however, who brought it to nought 
by exercising wonderful diplomacy and adroit- 
ness, to that extent that peace was apparently 
restored between the Sultan and the two Emirs, 
another man being sacrificed and disowned by 
both parties. 

When Mohammed took refuge in Karak by a 
trick and sent letters of abdication to Cairo. 
Selar, seeing that Beybars' Mameluke partisans 
were in greater number than his own, made a 
virtue of necessity and urged the election of his 
rival to the Sultanate. And it must be added that, 
when the tide turned, and it seemed that the son 
of Qalaun would be restored to the throne, 
Selar remained faithful to Beybars, until the 
latter fled towards Assuan, as related in the last 
chapter. Then Selar's prudence overruled his 
loyalty to one who had ever been a rival rather 
than a friend, and he took measures intended to 
secure Mohammed's good- will. He sealed up 
the Treasure House, liberated the Emirs whom 
Beybars had imprisoned in the Citadel, and 
wrote a letter of submission to En Nasser, whose 
name he ordered to be mentioned in the Friday 



services, as was the custom for the reigning 
Sultan. As Mohammed en Nasser approached 
Cairo, he was met by Selar, accompanied by a 
large party of Emirs ; all kissed the earth before 

When the son of Qalaun's third accession to 
the throne was celebrated, Selar took the oppor- 
tunity to ask to be relieved of the Viceroyalty 
which he had held for eleven years and to be 
allowed to retire to Shubak. Mohammed, with 
the duplicity which characterised him and which 
he had perhaps acquired through years of re- 
pression and restraint, accorded this with a 
gracious show of reluctance and presented his late 
Viceroy with travelling robes, whereupon Selar 

Shortly afterwards, however, some intrigues 
were discovered in which a brother of Selar 
was concerned, and the Sultan sent a letter to 
Selar, inviting him to come to Cairo and prove 
his innocence. As uie prudent Emir preferred to 
remain where he was, Mohammed then sent his 
friend, Sangar el Gawly, whom he appears to 
have persuaded that it would be to Selar's 
advantage to return. His coming reassured the 
latter, who consented to accompany him, but, 
F 65 


when the two with their suite came to the gates 
of Cairo, Selar was arrested and thrown into 
the Citadel prison. In his disappointment and 
indignation, he refused with angry words some 
food that the Sultan had sent him, and the latter 
therefore ordered that nothing else should be 
given him. After some days had elapsed, the 
wretched man tried to eat his boots in his prison 
and, this being reported to the Sultan, Mohammed 
relented and sent him some food with a message of 
forgiveness. But it was too late ; the prisoner 
rose to his feet on hearing the good news, only 
to fall down, dead. 

I do not know what Sangar's feelings may 
have been when he found that he had been made 
an instrument in betraying Selar : at any rate, he 
had him suitably buried in his own madrassa, 
where the two friends had prepared their tombs 
next to each other. If, as seems likely, Sangar 
supervised the completion of the edifice, it is 
rather touching to notice that his friend's mau- 
soleum is far more elaborately adorned than his 
own and, in fact, forms the most important 
portion of the whole building. The Gawliya, as 
it was called by Arab writers, is one of the most 
interesting mosques in Cairo and quite unique 



in style ; it is built against the rock on which Ibn 
Tulun's army quarters once stood, and the archi- 
tect has very cleverly taken advantage of the 
unusual site. The north faade, with its twin 
domes and characteristic minaret, is extremely 
striking. Modern steps lead to the entrance 
vestibule, a vaulted chamber partly cut out of the 
rock and suggestive rather of a mediaeval fortress 
than a mosque. To reach the prayer-hall and 
the tombs another staircase has to be ascended, 
a most picturesque flight of stone steps under a 
massive vault, only lighted above by an opening 
in the roof. 

At the top of the stairs, a square landing has 
three doors, that at the bottom of the minaret, 
one opening into the sanctuary, and the third 
leading into the corridor, again solidly vaulted, 
at the end of which is a small dome above an 
obscure Sheykh's tomb. On the left, or south 
side, this corridor is lighted by large bays, screened 
with the most wonderful carved stone-work in 
Cairo ; delicate open-work arabesques about 
an inch thick, in a different design for each bay. 
These alone would justify a visit to this little- 
known monument. 

On the right of the passage, one door opens 


into the tomb-chamber of Selar, and another 
into that of Sangar ; there are also doors of 
communication between the two. They are 
very like each other in the general plan and 
harmony of their proportions, but the decoration 
of that of Selar is much more elaborate. Large 
windows look over the street below, but it is 
better to keep them closed so as to enjoy the sub- 
dued and melancholy light thrown by the charm- 
ing glass windows of the dome ; these qamariydt 
retain the original glass, with an attractive 
design of a chalice in moonlight blue, and tone 
very harmoniously with the general soft and 
rather cold effect. 

There is nothing interesting in the Sanctuary, 
which has had to be partly rebuilt, save its very 
uncommon plan. The covered sahn shows 
remains of a fine inscription and some odd little 
square windows in carved stone- work, similar, on 
a much smaller scale, to that of the bays in the 

In the yard, full of rubbish and debris, which 
can be entered through a side door from the 
corridor, a magnificent stucco inscription runs 
along a wall ; it is Quranic, as are also the 
beautiful inscriptions on the drums of the two 



domes, sadly damaged, unfortunately, and the 
inscriptions on the minaret. The latter, with its 
square base and octagonal upper story, is not 
unlike that of Qalaun ; it is crowned by a kind 
of ribbed bonnet like others of the same period, 
approximately, for instance, that of Beybars el 
Gashenkir, the restorations to those of El 
Hakim, etc. etc. 

Sangar lived for many years after burying his 
unhappy friend and was for a long time Governor 
of Palestine. He built a number of monuments 
at Ghazza and Hebron, of which a few remains 
still exist. 


THE name of El-Malek el-Ashraf Abul 
Nasr Qaitbay has become identified 
with that of a whole epoch to which 
Cairo owes a great number of graceful monu- 
ments. Built either by the Sultan himself or by 
the rich Emirs of his court who wished to imitate 
him whilst glorifying themselves, these monu- 
ments, of which the mausoleum in the eastern 
cemetery is the prototype, 1 are fairly homo- 
geneous in style, and that style has accordingly 
become known by the name of Qaitbay : their 
number and charm certainly bear witness to the 
Mameluke Sultan's refined taste and energetic 

1 See, for a detailed description of this masterpiece, 
" Die Grab-Moschee des Sultans Raid Bey " by Franz 
Pasha, in Die Baukunst. 

It is also described in most books dealing with Cairo 
architecture, such as Lane-Poole's Cairo (Mediaeval Towns) ; 
Gayet's Art Arabe ; Margoliouth's Cairo, Jerusalem, and 
Damascus ; Saladin's Architecture Musulmane, etc. etc. 



Gayet, whose imaginative Art Arabe contains 
such attractive descriptions, tainted, alas, by so 
many inaccuracies, fancies that an approaching 
decadence is perceptible in the architecture of the 
fifteenth century. He sees in it " the frail languor 
and subtle delicacy of that which has received 
its death-blow." 

After a very detailed account of the chief points 
to be observed in the exterior and interior 
aspects of a fifteenth century mosque built by a 
Circassian or Bordjite mameluke as compared to 
one dating from the so-called Baharite dynasty 
(thirteenth to fourteenth centuries), Gayet thus 
speaks of the minaret and the dome. 

" The minaret and the dome were particularly 
adapted to personify the spirit of the times and, 
on them, the builder's talent became chiefly 
concentrated. Already under Qalaun and Bey- 
bars, the minaret began to soar in order to follow 
the aspirations of the soul : the Bordjites raised 
it still higher to enable it to support psychic 
hallucinations. . . . 

But, accustomed as they were to handle 
polygons, they had again to resort to polygony 
in order to conquer difficulties. The minarets 


of Qalaun and Sultan Hassan had had square 
towers of which each story was narrower than 
the last, and each story was surrounded by a 
corbelled balcony. The Bordjite builders in- 
scribed within the square of the first tower a 
second octagonal tower, and again, within that, 
a round shaft, crowning the whole by a baldaquin- 
shaped lantern. And, in order to emphasise 
the upward fling, they suppressed the terrace 
which separated the first from the second tower. 
. . . Thus the minaret becomes more slender 
as it soars ... it is adorned with chevrons and 
garlands . . . the dome of the lantern is now 
a bronze cupola decorated with arabesques 
against which metal poles carry lamps which 
are lighted on festal evenings. . . . The dome of 
the tomb becomes covered with interlacing 
arabesques ... it would seem draped in lace 
richly wrought. ... In short, the Bordjite 
period has merely refined the conceptions left 
to it by the preceding period : it has created 
nothing new. ... It has had but one object : 
extreme grace, and in that we may say that it 
has been perfectly successful. " 

Very little attention is usually accorded to the 


life and reign of the great inspirer of these 
architectural masterpieces, and yet the story 
of his reign is very interesting, particularly from 
the point of view of foreign history. 

Those epochs in which the history of the 
Sultans of Egypt happens to touch that of 
Europe help us to conceive its chronology and to 
escape from a tendency to look upon it as a 
series of Oriental fairy tales, disconnected from 
our own civilisation. And, in effect, Qaitbay 
was a contemporary of one of the most critical 
convulsions in European history, Sultan Gaqmaq, 
who gave him his freedom, having died in 1453, 
the year in which Constantinople was taken by 
Sultan Mohammed II. This event is unanimously 
considered as marking the end of the Middle 
Ages, and it certainly presaged for Egypt the 
approaching end of the artistic period which 
flourished under the rule of her warlike Mameluke 

Moreover, the chronicles of the fifteenth century, 
the Italian quattro cento, abound in dramatic 
episodes and picturesque characters, and it came 
about that the destiny of two of these romantic 
figures, Prince Djem and Queen Catherine 
Cornaro, crossed that of Sultan Qaitbay. The 



fate of the first mentioned was a tragic one and 
Lane-Poole 1 who recounts his sad tale, justly 

remarks that it throws a lurid light on the honour 
and chivalry of the Christian knights, princes 
and popes of the time. But, before bringing 
the unhappy prince before my readers, it is 
necessary to go back to the history of the Cir- 
cassian mameluke, Qaitbay. 

He was already fifty-five and grey-headed 
when he was placed, protesting, on the throne of 
Egypt, but the Arab historians retrace his 
previous career. He seems to have been brought 
to Egypt in his youth by a slave trader named 
Mahmud, who sold him and several others for 
fifty gold dinars each, to Sultan El-Malek El- 
Ashraf Barsbay. Barsbay's successor, Seyf ed-Din 
Gaqmaq, freed him, presented him with horses and 
robes of honour, and promoted him to the rank 
of Gamddr (master of the wardrobe), afterwards 
of Khasky (page), then of First Dawadar escritoire 
(bearer). The several short-reigned Sultans who 
succeeded Gaqmaq, viz. El Malek el Mansour 
Fakhr ed Din Othman, El Malek el Ashraf Abul 
Nasr Inal, El Malek el Muayyad Shehab ed 
Din Ahmed, El Malek ez Zaher Seif ed Din 
1 Turkey, " Story of the Nations " Series, p. 1404. 




Khoshqadam, El Malek ez Zaher Abu Said 
Timurbugha, continued to load him with favours, 
and, the last mentioned having been deposed 
after a revolution to which Qaitbay was not 
altogether a stranger, the latter was chosen by 
the Emirs to take his place. 

It must be added that he treated the deposed 
Sultan, a scholarly man of his own age who had 
been his friend, and had made him Atabek or 
Generalissimo, with much honour and con- 
sideration, and enabled him to live comfortably 
and in perfect freedom at Damietta. Timur- 
bugha had only accepted the Sultanate with 
much repugnance, and there is no reason to 
believe that he regretted his deposition. 

After Qaitbay had reigned in peace for six 
years, during which he indulged in his passion 
for building, his beautiful mausoleum in the 
eastern cemetery dating from that time, he 
was forced to turn his attention to the wars 
which afterwards rilled so many years of his 
reign. Mohammed II had fought and defeated 
Uzun Hassan, the Turcoman ruler of Persia, 
who was the ally and so-called vassal of Egypt, 
and it was obvious that Ibn Othman, as the 
Arab chroniclers call the successive Turkish 



Sultans, would look upon Egypt next with 
covetous eyes. Qaitbay therefore busied himself 
with the protection of his Syrian frontiers, 
garrisoning them with his best troops and con- 
solidating the fortifications ; his characteristic 
cartouche (see PL) is to be found on the ancient 
walls of remote Syrian cities, at Birejik, for 
instance, where it is seen decorating the walls 
of the citadel. The south-east gateway bears 
an inscription recording the Sultan's works of 
restoration, and the repairs he caused to be made 
to the walls are quite visible. Much of this work 
of consolidation is also to be seen at Aleppo. 1 

Fearing perhaps for his own person in spite of 
all these precautions, Qaitbay attempted to 
abdicate, invoking his age and desire for rest, but 
the Emirs refused to allow him to do so and 
insisted on his remaining their liege lord. He 
consented against his will, at the very moment 
when Mohammed II was preparing to invade 
Syria, an intention frustrated by his own death 
in A.H. 885. It is then that Prince Djem first 
appears upon the scene. Known as Zizim by 
European historians, his name was really Djem- 

1 See van Berchem, Inschrifte aus Syrien, in Beitrdge zur 
Assyriologie, VII, i. 

7 6 


shid, and he was a son of Mohammed II, from 
whom, according to Lane-Poole, he had inherited 
a vigorous and ambitious disposition and also 
marked intellectual gifts. His brother Bayazid 
(Bajazet) having been first to hear of their 
father's death, hastened to Constantinople and, 
bribing the janissaries, seized the throne for 
himself. War ensued between the two brothers, 
and Qaitbay, reassured, left the frontiers of 
Syria and returned to Cairo. It would seem that 
he had had previous relations with Prince Djem, 
for the latter, having been defeated by his brother 
in the battle of Yeni Sheher, fled to Egypt with 
his wife and children and begged for refuge. 
Sultan Qaitbay not only received him but furn- 
ished him with the means of a fresh attack upon 
his brother, this time in Qaramania. Beaten 
once more and reduced to flight, Prince Djem 
placed himself under the protection of the 
Knights of Rhodes, of whom the Grand Master 
was at that time Cardinal Pierre d'Aubusson. 

From this moment, the unhappy Turkish 
Prince became the object and the victim of 
infamous intrigues and shameful calculations. 
Lane-Poole has made the history of Djem's 
thirteen years' captivity the subject of one of the 



most interesting chapters of his Turkey, 1 and 
points out the disgraceful part played in the 
affair by the sovereigns and princes of his time. 
Even his former protector, Qaitbay, ultimately 
abandoned him to his fate in his efforts to induce 
Bayazid to forget the part which he had taken 
in the conflict between the two brothers. 

As soon as he had Djem in his power, d'Aubus- 
son made him sign a secret treaty promising 
great privileges for the Knights of St. John 
should he reach the Ottoman throne ; at the 
same time, he opened negotiations with Bayazid. 
The Sultan desired to become reconciled with 
his brother, but the latter refused all offers, and 
Bayazid then agreed to pay forty-five thousand 
ducats annually to the Order as long as they 
could detain Djem. The ill-fated prisoner, 
who, not having yet understood that the 
possession of his person had become a valuable 
asset, still believed himself to be the guest of 
his gaolers, was taken to France. During his 
sojourn in one of the commanderies where he 
was detained by the Knights of St. John, he 
loved a beautiful girl who returned his affections. 
The thought of the mother of his children, whom 
1 " Story of the Nations " Series. 

7 8 


he had left in Egypt, was probably no burden on 
the Moslem's conscience. The Princess, on the 
other hand, was making strenuous efforts to 
ransom her husband, and the disloyal Grand- 
Master was infamous enough to accept twenty 
thousand ducats from her without releasing the 

For thirteen long years he remained imprisoned 
in Europe ; during that time the hope was held 
out to him that he might obtain his father's 
throne through the assistance of Mathias Corvinus, 
the Hungarian King who had proved himself the 
bulwark of Europe against the Ottomans. Fer- 
dinand of Naples, Charles VIII of France, and 
Pope Innocent VIII were each to have a part in 
this. The Pontiff, however, having succeeded 
in obtaining the custody of the Ottoman Prince, 
demanded from Bayazid the annual sum of 
forty thousand ducats to make this secure. 
His successor, the notorious Alexander Borgia, 
evidently thought this arrangement unsatisfactory 
and offered the Sultan to rid him altogether from 
an inconvenient Pretender for the total sum of 
three hundred thousand ducats. 

At that moment, Charles VIII, having invaded 
Italy, dictated to Alexander VI the terms of a 



treaty which included, among other things, 
the surrender of the princely hostage into the 
French King's hands. The treacherous Borgia 
executed this clause but earned at the same time 
the premium promised by the Sultan. Djem 
was handed over to the French in a dying 
condition, having previously been poisoned, by 
means, it is said, of a barber's razor. 

Turkish literature is the richer by several 
poems composed by our melancholy hero. Lane- 
Poole quotes one or two from E. J. N. Gibb's 
Ottoman Poems. Truly his chequered life, its 
medley of ambition, love, captivity and death, 
provided him with sufficient subjects on which 
to exercise the poetic talent with which Nature 
had gifted him. 

During the years which followed the final 
defeat of Prince Djem, war raged continually 
between Bayazid and Qaitbay, the advantage 
resting sometimes with one, sometimes with the 
other. In the written accounts of these battles 
we frequently come across the names of Mameluke 
Emirs who not only distinguished themselves 
as soldiers or diplomats, but also, following their 
sovereign's example, enriched the city of Cairo 
with exquisite monuments. 




The most important of them all, the Emir 
Ezbek, General-in-Chief of Qaitbay, was several 
times victorious over the Turks and accorded 
triumphal honours when he returned bringing 
distinguished prisoners. On one of those 
occasions he built a splendid mosque, giving to a 
whole quarter of Cairo a name which it still 
bears, though the mosque itself has disappeared. 
That neighbourhood was entirely transformed 
by the Emir Ezbek, who dug in it a lake, easily 
filled by the waters of the Nile and quickly 
surrounded by sumptuous dwellings ; his mosque, 
the Ezbekiya, stood, approximately, where the 
Opera House now is ; it was demolished in 1869 
by Ismail Pasha. According to contemporaries, 
it must have been very fine. No traces of it are 
left, save some bronze bands with inscriptions, 
probably from the doors, and preserved in the 
Arab Museum. It is also very probable that the 
lovely house, built by M. de St. Maurice, which 
is now used for the French Agency, was enriched 
by some of the materials of Ezbek J s mosque. 

It seems that this Emir's tastes for building 

coincided with those of the Sultan, for his name 

is mentioned as Director of Works, notably in 

the description of the construction of the arches 

G 81 


of the Giza Embankment. He must not be con- 
fused with his namesake, the Emir Ezbek el 
Yussefy, who, in 1495, built in the Sharia Es 
Saliba, a graceful mosque of which the plan is 
cleverly adapted to a very irregular piece of 
ground. The minaret contains a double staircase. 
The interior is quite characteristic of what is 
known as the Qaitbay style ; unfortunately the 
carved surfaces have been disfigured by red 
paint, probably in Turkish times. 

The mosque known under the name of Abu 
Horiba 1 was also built by one of Qaitbay's 
generals, the Emir Qichmas el Ishaky. Of 
General Yashbak el Mahdy, one of the most 
important in this reign, we have the dome 
called el Fadawiya, near el Abbassiya, in the old 
Husseiniya quarter. It is an isolated mausoleum, 
consisting of a cube from which the dome rises 
without any transition ; the result of this is that 
the exterior lacks grace, in spite of the harmonious 
outline of the cupola itself. Inside, the incom- 
parable decoration which lines the interior of 
the dome and the pendentives sufficiently 
accounts, even in the absence of the marble 
mosaic panelling which has now disappeared 
1 See Rambles in Cairo, p. 75. 




from the walls and from the mihrdb for the great 
reputation of beauty which made a visit to this 
monument a favourable excursion for the last 
mameluke Sultans and the Turkish Pashas who 
followed. The Emir Yashbak died before it was 
completed and his Sovereign in person saw to the 
completion of the edifice (1481). Yashbak was 
the possessor of the now ruined palace which 
stands near the mosque of Sultan Hassan, and 
traces can still be seen of a large heraldic cartouche 
containing the dawaddr's writing-box, considered 
as a hieroglyphic sign until Abdel Hamid 
Bey Mustapha's convincing demonstration. 1 A 
cousin of General Yashbak, the Emir Ganem el 
Bahlawan, built in the Serugiya a handsome 
mosque (1478), which was restored and described 
by Herz Pasha ; the Comite de Conservation des 
Monuments Arabes has published this description, 
with good photographic illustrations. 

The Emir Mamay, whom Qaitbay sent as an 
ambassador to Sultan Bayazid, and who, though 
an envoy, was imprisoned by the latter, was the 
owner of the fine palace known as the Beit el 
Qady, not far from the Khan Khalily. Only the 
maq'ad of that palace remains, a loggia facing 
1 See Burlington Magazine, December 1919. 



north, framed in slender arcades. This archi- 
tectural feature is to be found in Qaitbay's own 
houses and was afterwards repeated in the 
palaces and private houses of the Turkish period, 
probably because of its suitability to the climate 
of Egypt and the north breeze, almost constant 
in the summer, which brings a delicious coolness 
in the evening. 

Next to the Sultan's mausoleum, the most 
beautiful monument of the Qaitbay period is, 
to my mind, the small madrassa of the learned 
Abu Bekr ibn Muzhir el Ansary, chief of the 
Chancellery. Evidently a rich man, this Emir 
also built a madrassa at Jerusalem. It is, unfortu- 
nately, in a very dilapidated condition, owing 
to neglect and to the damp climate of Palestine, 
but a great deal still remains. The interior 
offers several commodious rooms and some cells 
for students, and, but for some details of the 
facade, it presents very little similarity with 
Abu Bekr's Cairo building. It is even doubtful 
whether he ever saw it, for he is said to have been 
seized by his last illness, A.H. 893, when on his 
way to Jerusalem to visit his madrassa, which had 
been completed in 885 (A.D. 1497). The Cairo 
madrassa was finished a year earlier. The 


exterior is plain, save for the two fine doors and 
minaret, but the extreme skill of the architect 
becomes apparent when the difficulty of the site 
is observed. It is an angle of an ancient street 
bearing the name of El Hakim's Wazir, Birgwan, 
and the orientation was not favourable. However, 
these very difficulties have been turned to good 
account ; for instance, a most effective view of the 
interior is obtained from the vestibule owing to the 
diagonal position of a window opening into it. 

The street is very narrow at present, but 
many houses are being cleared away and a better 
general view will soon be afforded. The interior 
resembles no other, save that of the mosque of 
Aslam el Bahay (745-1344), in this respect, that 
the arches of two of the liwdns are supported by 
columns. In this case, however, they are the two 
principal liwdns, whilst, in the fourteenth century 
mosque, the sanctuary is framed by a broad single 
arch and the triple arch on two columns is re- 
served for the two side liwdns. 

The interior decoration is delicate and costly, 
and has been repaired with great taste by Herz 
Pasha (1883-97), the original designs being 
preserved even in the case of the pierced plaster 
windows of which the glass had practically dis- 



appeared. As nothing remained of the lantern 
(or perhaps dome), which covered the sahn, Herz 
replaced it by a flat covering which does not 
interfere with the general exterior outline of the 
monument ; the closed interior gains in religious 
feeling from having no open court. The marble 
pavement, also very badly damaged, was repaired 
on its own lines. The woodwork, among the 
very best in Cairo, suffered comparatively less, 
much of it being intact. The splendid bronze 
door had been despoiled of its inscriptions by 
thieves, who had also taken away a large portion 
of the metal polygonal surface decoration, but 
enough remained to reconstruct the design, and 
this has been very skilfully done. 

The graceful arabesques over the windows 
on each side of the mihrdb are executed in a 
peculiar method, a black or red composition being 
inserted in grooves hollowed out of white marble. 
This technique appears in Mameluke work for 
the first time in the fifteenth century, but was 
used by the ancient Egyptians of the eighteenth 
dynasty. It is very effectively employed in 
mosques of the late Circassian and early Turkish 
period, such as those of El Ghury, Khairbek, 
Sidi Sariya, etc. etc. 




Another beautiful madrassa, this one due to the 
Sultan himself (1475), is as difficult of access as 
that of Abu Bekr. It is situated on the height 
known as Qalaat el Kabsh, and the best way to 
reach it is to pass through the mosque of Sangar 
el Gawly. The exterior is less harmonious than 
that of the mausoleum ; not being a tomb, it is 
deprived of the special charm imparted by a dome, 
and the minaret is somewhat lacking in height, 
perhaps on account of the high and exposed 
ground on which the building is situated. Never- 
theless that minaret is interesting because of its 
rare form ; the lower of the two balconies rests 
on a sort of cornice instead of the usual stalactites 
and is placed much nearer the base than is the 
general custom ; at the same time, the roof of 
the mosque being particularly lofty, the relative 
proportions of the building and its minaret seem 
peculiar and abnormal. 

The two doorways face north and south. The 
north portal, in trefoil shape, is placed close to 
the angle on which the minaret stands ; the upper 
lobe of the trefoil is decorated in a very character- 
istic manner, with a straight-lined design which 
I have noticed on many Qaitbay monuments and 
on no others : it was interesting to find it again 


on some panels of the Sultan's madrassa in 

The interior of the Qalaat el Kabsh madrassa 
has unfortunately been much neglected, in fact 
the whole building looks as if threatened by 
imminent collapse, and it is surprising to read, in 
the Comptes-rendus of the Comite, that large 
sums have been spent for its consolidation. No 
attempt has been made to restore its former 
estate, and it is particularly badly kept by the 
attendant in charge. However, it is easy to see 
that it must have been strikingly beautiful ; 
like the mausoleum, it is built on the " modified " 
cruciform plan, a narrow pointed arch forming 
each side liwdn. The two principal arches show a 
decided return, again like those of the mausoleum, 
but they do not look so broad in proportion, 
owing to the greater height of the walls. 

The archivolts of all four arches consist of 
alternate plain red and richly carved white stone 
voussoirs ; the same scheme of decoration is used 
throughout the interior and is extremely pleasing, 
especially in the treatment of the mihrdb. 

Remains still exist of fine ceilings, and the 
minbar is of marquetry inlaid with ivory and 
ebony. The dikka forms an inner balcony in 


the north liwdn, an attractive feature which is 
also to be found in Abu Bekr's madrassa. 

A drinking trough for horses and cattle stands 
near the south entrance of the madrassa ; it is 
not in a better state of preservation than that near 
the mausoleum, which it greatly resembles. A 
third drinking trough, near El Azhar, is in much 
better condition ; it is perhaps later in date. 
Like the neighbouring wakdla and sebil, it is 
adorned with exquisite details. 

Two other large waqdlas, or khans, were built 
in Cairo by Qaitbay, and a good deal remains 
of that which stands in the vicinity of Bab 
en Nasr. Qaitbay built several of these khans 
in Syria, and some are mentioned in Lanzone's 
interesting Viaggio in Palestina e Soria da Kaid 
Bai. 1 

It was "only in 1490 that peace was concluded 
between the Turks and Egypt, and Qaitbay took 
advantage of it to secure the continuation of 
revenue which he sorely needed to face the 
enormous expenses caused by his passion for 

1 A XVth century Arab text, edited and published with an 
Italian preface and notes, Turin, 1878. A French translation, 
by the present writer, will shortly be published, by the 
Institut Franfais cT Archtologie Orientale in Cairo. 


architecture. This useful annual sum, the exact 
amount of which is uncertain, came from Cyprus ; 
the island, ceded to the Lusignan family by 
Richard Coeur de Lion in 1192, had been reduced 
to vassalage by Sultan Barsbay in 1426, and paid 
a yearly tribute to Egypt. 

King John II of Lusignan was succeeded by 
his son John III, married to Princess Helena 
Paleologue, who had acquired a powerful influence 
over her husband though she had borne him 
but one daughter, Princess Charlotte. By a 
Greek woman from Patras the king also had a 
natural son, James, whom his wily stepmother 
had forced to become a priest and who was 
now Archbishop of Nicosia. Among the young 
prelate's friends was an exiled patrician from the 
powerful Republic of Venice, Andrea Cornaro, 
a member of a ducal house who had settled 
in Cyprus, where his family possessed land- 
property, and was intriguing to obtain his pardon. 
The clever Venetian persuaded the illegitimate 
Prince to claim his rights against his step-sister, 
married to a foreigner, Prince Louis of Savoy, 
and to leave the Church in order to marry and 
continue the dynasty. He also spoke to him 
of his own niece, beautiful Caterina Cornaro, who, 



should she become his Queen, would no doubt 
secure an alliance with Venice. He succeeded so 
well that James fell in love with Caterina at the 
mere sight of her portrait and announced his 
claim to the throne of his father. It was obvious 
that Cornaro had thus found means of coming 
again into favour with his fellow-citizens, for it 
was the Venetian Ambassador who protected 
James in his flight to Rhodes when his step- 
mother attempted to have him assassinated, and 
Caterina, his fiancee, was solemnly adopted by 
Venice and declared Daughter of the Republic. 
The death of John III (1458), immediately after 
that of Queen Helena, hurried the course of 
events ; James went to Egypt and succeeded in 
obtaining assistance from Sultan Khoshqadam 
by increasing the annual tribute, and especially by 
acquiring the aid of the Ottomans against his 
sister and her husband, Louis of Savoy, who had 
no allies but the Republic of Genoa and the 
Knights of Rhodes. He returned to Cyprus 
with a Venetian squadron and married Caterina 
Cornaro by proxy in 1469. 

His reign lasted but three years ; he died in 
1472, perhaps poisoned, leaving his wife pregnant 
and under the official protection of Venice ; 

9 1 


when the child, a boy, was born he was given 
Venetian sponsors at his baptism. Every action 
of the widowed Queen was dictated to her by the 
Republic, through the intermediary of her uncle 
Andrea. It seems that the Cypriots did not 
appreciate this foreign yoke, for a conspiracy 
burst out in 1473, Cornaro was assassinated, and 
the Queen and baby King imprisoned. They 
were released and replaced on the throne by Vene- 
tian forces, but the child died in 1475. James 
had left some illegitimate children and provided in 
his will that they should come next in order of 
succession, but Venice had had them all, with his 
mother, taken to Padua, where they died. Caterina 
continued to reign alone ; no doubt she realised 
that her power was solely upheld by the Republic, 
impatiently awaiting for her death to seize the 
coveted prey. In 1488, the Republic having 
ascertained that she was contemplating a second 
marriage with a Prince of the House of Naples, 
her brother Giorgio was sent to her with orders 
to impose abdication upon the Queen ; she 
resisted until 1489, then gave way and let herself 
be taken to Venice, where she was confined, with 
every luxury and a hypocritical show of respect, 
in the castle of Asolo, where she died at the age of 



fifty-six. Cypriot chronicles imply that she was 
beautiful, but we have no trustworthy portrait of 
Caterina ; M. Andre Maurel, whose Quinze Jours 
a Venise led me to search into the sad history of 
this noble lady, proves that the two so-called 
portraits of her, by Titian and Giorgione, cannot 
be authentic since both these painters were but 
twelve years old when she returned to Venice 
after her unhappy reign. 

The Republic, though having thus seized upon 
the Lusignan's kingdom, was unable to shake off 
the suzerainty of Egypt. In 1490, Sultan Qaitbay 
concluded peace with the Turk ; being con- 
sequently unhampered in his movements, he 
then turned towards Cyprus, and, by threaten- 
ing to invade the island, easily obtained the con- 
tinuation of the annual tribute. Interesting 
letters have been preserved 1 in which Sultan 
Qaitbay acknowledges, first, in 1476, Catherine's 
royalty, and secondly, in 1490, the domination 
of Venice over the island of Cyprus, in each case 
accompanied by rich presents, spices, sugar, 
pieces of silk, robes of honour, and plates and 
bowls of porcelain ; the letter to the widowed 

1 Italian translations of these are to be found in Mas 
Latrie's Histoire de Chypre, Vol. Ill, p. 405. 



queen is very lordly and condescending in tone, 
and graciously accepts her excuses for having 
omitted for two years to pay the tribute, owing 
to the revolution during which her husband and 
her uncle had died. 

If the means used by Qaitbay to enforce an 
annual subsidy from the Venetian Republic 
were fully justified, the same cannot be said 
of many cases in which historians detail the 
cruelty and injustice of his exactions. He 
neglected no opportunity or pretext to seize upon 
the heritage of any rich man who happened 
to die ; he burdened the fellahin with taxes and 
went so far as to torture people in order to obtain 
money from them to enable him to gratify his 
mania for building. The history of Zein ed 
Din Yehia gives an example of his rapacious 

An Armenian by birth, he filled for many 
years the post of ostaddr or major-domo, and Ibn 
lyas relates that he was repeatedly imprisoned or 
tortured under accusations of embezzlement of 
funds. He had certainly become a very rich man 
and, during the reign of Sultan Gaqmaq, his 
protector, he built three fine mosques. One of 
those mosques (A.D. 1444) is to be found in Bein 



el Nehdein and was restored by the Comite. The 
repairs were begun in 1884, when very few 
monuments had yet received any attention, but 
the work was interrupted again and again for 
lack of funds. At last, in 1897, the restoration 
was finished, at a total cost of two thousand nine 
hundred and eleven pounds. The mosque is 
small and planned after the later Circassian 
style, with that peculiarity that the little school 
(kuttdb) is placed, not above a fountain as usual, 
but above the tomb, which is therefore without 
a dome. 

Like the later mosque of Qichmas el Ishaky, 
this monument is very effectively situated on a 
triangular piece of ground between two diverging 
streets, the minaret placed well forward and two 
charming mushrabiya balconies lend grace to 
the east faade. The panelled pulpit bears on 
its door frame the escritoire blason, placed sym- 
metrically from left to right and then from right 
to left. 

Zein ed Din's second mosque, at Bulaq, dates 
from the year 1449, and is often called the 
Mehkemeh, or Tribunal. It is now being exten- 
sively repaired. Like the third monument, by 
he same builder, situated in the Habbaniya, it 



presents an open sahn and a colonnade. The 
last mentioned building bears no date, but, on 
architectural grounds, Captain Creswell 1 places it 
later than the two others. The same authority 
attributes to Zein ed Din the small ribdt in the 
Sharia Bein es Surein, known as the mausoleum 
of Sheykh Abu Taleb (No. 141 on plan). 

Zein ed Din and Qaitbay had formerly had 
violent quarrels and, after the latter had become 
Sultan, he was cowardly enough to take advantage 
of his position in order to avenge himself cruelly 
upon his former enemy. In 1469, he had the 
old man (Zein ed Din was then over eighty) 
arrested in his house and imprisoned in the 
Citadel ; he then sent for him and, after over- 
whelming him with insults, had him flogged in 
his presence until the victim fainted. The next 
and following days the same scene was repeated ; 
finally the unfortunate octogenarian died in his 
prison. The fact was reported to the Sultan, who 
refused to believe it until he had seen the corpse. 
He then laid hands on the wealth which had 
excited his cupidity. 

This ferocious picture goes very badly with 
contemporary descriptions of Qaitbay 's piety 
1 Brief Chronology, p. 131. 

9 6 



According to several legends, holy men had had 
dreams foretelling his greatness which he, in his 
modesty, forbade them to repeat. Ibn lyas, 
speaking of his piety, relates a pretty episode : 
the Sultan, returning from a ride, accompanied 
by several Emirs, met the coffin of a poor, foreign 
woman, being carried to the cemetery ; no one 
followed the humble bier, the men who carried it 
were alone. Alighting from his horse, and order- 
ing his Emirs to do likewise, Qaitbay followed 
the coffin for some distance, then himself per- 
formed, in the street, the prayer for the dead. 

But his piety was chiefly manifested by the 
large number of pious buildings that he erected. 
He built several sebils, or fountains for the poor, 
in Cairo, and, in Jerusalem, a very characteristic 
one in the sacred precincts of the Dome of the 
Rock. 1 The charming little cupola, draped with 
carved arabesques, is unlike any of the many 
domes in the Holy City, though very familiar 
to eyes accustomed to Mameluke architecture 
in Cairo. The engaged columns in the western 
angles are also very suggestive of the Qaitbay 
style, though I do not remember seeing any 
exactly like them with their alternate courses 
1 See Frontispiece. 

H 97 


of plain and carved stone fitted in zigzag. Qaitbay 
restored many mosques, including the most 
holy, such as El Azhar, 1 the Mosque of Amr, the 
Mausoleum of the Imam Shafey, etc. etc. At 
Mecca, he built houses for poor pilgrims and a 
madrassa ; he is also said to have built schools 
at Ghazza and Damietta, both now disappeared, 
whilst the one at Jerusalem preserves a magnificent 
porch, and many interesting stone panels carved 
in the same designs as those that are to be found in 
his Cairo buildings. This proves how much of 
this special style is due to the individual taste of 
the sovereign who must have imposed it upon the 
craftsmen whom he employed. 

In Alexandria, his name has remained attached 
to the fort and mosque which he built on what 
the most reliable authorities consider to have been 
the site of the ancient Pharos. 

Among the religious monuments which he 
erected in Cairo, Ibn lyas mentions " his beauti- 
ful mosque outside Bab el Qarafa," of which 
practically nothing remains ; he also speaks of 
his mosque at Roda, built on the site of an older 
one and of which some parts still date from his 
time, and of another, " Sheykh Sultan Shah." 
1 See Rambles in Cairo, p. 13. 

9 8 


The last mentioned, situated in the Sharia Gheit 
el Edda, leading to Bab el Khalq, and seldom 
visited, has now a modern fa9ade, but the curious 
octagonal columns carved with arabesques and 
the inner East fa9ade, showing the Sultan's 
cartouches, are still to be seen. 

Qaitbay died in A.D. 1496 (A.H. 901), at the 
age of eighty. The day before his death, the 
Mamelukes, seeing he could not recover, forced 
the almost unconscious patient to abdicate ; 
they were then in the midst of one of the crises 
of quarrels and fighting which occurred periodi- 
cally within that turbulent corps. Qaitbay 's son 
Mohammed, a worthless young man, was en- 
throned in his place. 

Ibn lyas describes the dead Sultan as being 
a tall and powerful man, his face square rather 
than oval and highly coloured. It seems sur- 
prising that, with such a striking physique, he 
should have been able to disguise himself as a 
Maghraby (Moor), which he is said to have done, 
and to wander in the streets and in the mosque 
of El-Azhar in order to listen to conversations 
and to hear what was being said of him. It may 
be that his incognito was not so complete as it 
pleased him to believe. 



He left the kingdom impoverished by con- 
tinual wars, a terrible plague (1492), and the 
enormous building expenses owing to which 
he earned the artistic reputation which has clung 
to his name. 




NEXT to the Mosque of Aqsunqur, the 
tourists' " Blue Mosque," stands the 
Mosque of Khairbek, a monument of 
which the outer aspect is exceptionally pleasing 
to the eye. This is partly due to the fact that the 
street facade, instead of presenting a long un- 
broken line, is flanked on either side by a bold 
projecting wing, consisting of a sebil at the north 
end and a mausoleum at the other. The latter 
is covered by a beautiful stone dome carved in 
delicate lace-like arabesques ; it is a great pity 
that the Comite has not yet seen its way to 
straighten the iron finial which is leaning over 
rather badly ; a small detail like that is sufficient 
to spoil the pleasure of gazing at the whole 
edifice. The minaret, which, like many others, 
has lost its upper part, but which in this case has 
been left in its uncrowned beauty, is one of the 
finest in Cairo, its proportions being unusually 
harmonious and successful in conveying an 



impression of solidity. This effect is the more re- 
markable in that the minaret, instead of standing 
on a solid base, as is the general rule, is built over 
a romantic little vaulted chamber, at the angle 
of the mausoleum and the west fagade, in the 
Tabbana Street. The entrance portal, a graceful 
archway in the style of El-Ghury, does not open 
immediately into the sanctuary of the mosque, 
but into a yard full of ruins ; on the right, a 
flight of stone steps leads into the madmssa. 
I have brought several artistic and intelligent 
visitors, who have made no special study of 
Moslem architecture, to see this mosque, which 
is not one of the most celebrated, and each of 
them has remarked on the beauty of the interior. 
It does not impress me in the same way, but 
rather gives me a sensation of uneasy, enigmatical 
attraction, due perhaps to the fact that the con- 
struction is abnormal and unexpected, a departure 
from the usual lines of the fifteenth century 
mosques. At the same time it does not follow 
the natural process of transition that might have 
been expected at a moment when there was a 
distinct evolution in architectural style ; the 
differences which it presents are so marked as 
to seem intentional, a kind of snobbish flattery 



i ' >.?: " : ; \ l<1 
s V: ; . 


of the new conquerors. It may be that the 
unpleasant personality of the Emir Khairbek, 
revealed by the interesting chronicle of Ibn 
lyas, reflects upon the mosque which he founded, 
and that the judgment of those who know nothing 
about him is fairer to the monument ; thus it is 
easier to criticise a book impartially if the foibles 
or vices of the writer are unknown. Some people 
are so sensitive to architecture that certain 
buildings seem to them to exhale a perceptible 
good or evil psychic influence ; it would be 
curious to know what effect the Mosque of 
Khairbek has on such. 

The group of monuments of which it forms part 
was not built at one and the same time, and, 
for that reason, lacks the satisfying homogeneity 
which generally characterises the rapidly built 
Mameluke monuments. The mausoleum is dated 
by an inscription (908-1502), and Aly Pasha 
Moubarak, who had access to the waqf documents 
concerning the religious buildings of Cairo, 
gives for the mosque the date of A.H. 927. 
The courtyard also contains the ruins of a 
large palace which, being connected with the 
mausoleum by an arch, is supposed to have 
belonged to the same Emir. If this supposition 



is correct, as seems very probable, Captain 
Creswell's 1 historical reasons for dating this 
palace about A.H. 906 appear to be well founded. 
The interior appearance of the mausoleum agrees 
very well with the date given by the inscription ; 
the style is that of the late fifteenth century 
mosques, and many details recall the two mosques 
of Sultan El Ghury, in the Ghuriya. 

It is brightly lighted and, to my mind, carries 
no suggestion of supernatural horrors, but it is said 
that, for many years after Khairbek's death, the 
place was supposed to be haunted, and the voice 
of the dead oppressor of the poor was heard 
every night groaning and imploring the pardon 
of Allah for his wickedness. The funeral chamber 
is entered by a fine doorway in the south-east 
corner of the sanctuary ; next to it is a small door 
leading into the vaulted chamber which supports 
the minaret, and the irregularity of those two 
unequal doorways under one arch is one of the 
uncomfortable features of the interior of the build- 
ing. The whole madrassa, built during the time 
when Khairbek represented in Cairo the Turkish 
Sultan, is quite different from a Mameluke 

1 Brief Chronology of Muhammadan Monuments in Egypt, 
p. 151. 




mosque and very singular. The sahn, instead 
of presenting an open centre or a flat wooden 
roofing surmounted by a lantern, is covered over 
by cross-vaults interrupted in the centre by a 
small octagonal opening forming a lantern or 
skylight. This feature, until that date practically 
unknown in Cairo, is frequently to be found in 
Palestine and North Syria, carried out in one kind 
of stone. In this case the colour effect is much 
better than would appear from the photograph, 
the stone used being in alternate fawn and reddish 
courses, only contrasting just enough to form an 
agreeable relief. The decoration is sober and 
restrained ; a graceful naskhy inscription in black 
letters inlaid in white marble forms a frieze above 
a simple facing of marble mosaic. A good dikka 
of woodwork fills the vaulted bay which faces the 
mihrdb. The orientation of this not being quite 
correct, the Sheykhs have here rectified it by 
placing in it a small water-colour painting of a 

The worldly fortune which attended the 
founder could not have been less merited, and 
the record of his life, which is to be extracted 
from the chronicles of Ibn lyas, forms a series 
of treacherous, cruel, and avaricious dealings. 


Unfortunately the MSS. from which the Bulaq 
edition has been printed, alone available here, is 
not complete, the greater part of the reign of 
El-Ghury being missing, and it is probable that 
many interesting details relating to Khairbek's 
early life and betrayal of Egypt are to be found 
in the Paris MSS., quoted by van Berchem 
and Casanova. A summary of his life in a few 
lines, a sort of obituary notice added by Ibn 
lyas to the narrative of his death, and one or two 
allusions to the part he played at the battle of 
Marg Dabek, are all we have here to go upon. 
According to that summary, Khairbek was the 
son of the Emir Bilbay, a Circassian, and origin- 
ally belonged to Qaitbay's corps of Mamelukes. 
Not only he but several of his brothers attained a 
high rank at Court ; one of them even became 
Vice-Roy of Syria under Sultan el Ghury. 
Khairbek's own career included a mission to 
Constantinople as ambassador, in the time of 
Sultan Mohammed, son of Qaitbay, and it may be 
that his Turkish inclinations date from that time. 
He was made Governor of Aleppo in A.H. 910 
and remained in that post until Sultan Selim Shah 
defeated El Ghury at Marg Dabek, a victory 
which practically decided the conquest of Egypt. 



Khairbek commanded the left wing of the 
Egyptian Army, and another Mameluke Emir, 
Ganbardy El-Ghazzaly, the right. The Turks 
were provided with artillery, new to the Mameluke 
troops, and it is said to have terrified them 
utterly, but there seems no doubt that Khairbek, 
and perhaps Ghazzaly also, had been bought 
by Turkish gold. The two wings went over to 
the enemy in the midst of the battle, leaving the 
brave but aged Sultan to be trampled to death 
under the feet of the fleeing horses of the centre, 
which he himself commanded. Selim did not 
forget what he owed to Khairbek but loaded him 
with honours ; it would seem, however, that at 
one time the treacherous Emir's allegiance to the 
Turk wavered, for Ibn lyas tells us that, at that 
time, he entertained in what we will decorously 
call his heart (batnoh) feelings of disloyalty 
towards the Sultan. Such feelings, however, 
were not in his interest, and he suppressed them 
so successfully that, in A.H. 923, he became 
Governor of Cairo, with the title of Pasha. 
He was the first of that long list of Viceroys 
delegated by the Ottomans to rule over Cairo, 
whose power, though almost unlimited, was so 
transitory that an official actually existed (the 



dda bachy) whose sole duty consisted in carrying 
to the Pasha the news of his dismissal. Khairbek, 
however, was never dismissed, but died in office. 

On the occasion of his accession to the seat of 
Governor, he made what was evidently con- 
sidered a suitable match by taking to wife the 
widow of a previous Mameluke Sultan, the 
Princess Masrbay, who had been the wife of 
Ez-Zaher Qansuh. She was duly installed in the 
Citadel where the new Governor had taken up his 
residence. A good deal of scandal seems to have 
been caused by the fact that the wedding took 
place in the month of Ramadan, and was attended 
by a number of ladies who rode up on donkeys. 
The marriage did not prove a happy one, for the 
bride at all events, for, two years later, in A.H. 925, 
we find that all Cairo was talking because, for some 
unknown reason, the Governor had beaten his 
wife until she nearly died. 

Many other acts of cruelty are recorded of him ; 
Ibn lyas says that more than ten thousand 
persons were put to death by his orders. He had 
a violent temper, and delighted in condemning 
slaves to torture and death for trifling offences ; 
a great many of his victims are mentioned by 
name and details of their executions are given. 



Absolutely unscrupulous where money was con- 
cerned, he took advantage of his situation to 
despoil the fellahs and, by the time he died, had 
a huge fortune, in spite of the fact that Egypt 
was greatly impoverished by recent wars and the 
wholesale plunder by the Turks, while she had of 
late years lost the lucrative Indian trade through 
the adoption of the Cape sea-route. The Cir- 
cassian Mamelukes, Khairbek's former comrades, 
were frequently kept waiting for months for the 
arrears of their pay, and compensated themselves 
by looting and pillaging houses and shops. His 
death was ardently desired by the oppressed 
Egyptians, and, when the dome of Mohammed 
el Nasser's iwdn on the Citadel fell in A.H. 928* 
it was considered an omen of evil for the Governor, 
and secretly rejoiced over by the people for that 
reason. He died in the same year of erysipelas, 
after a painful illness of several days which, says 
the chronicler, were the happiest the poor had 
known since he had been in power. Remorse 
seems in fact to have come to the dying man, who 
tried to propitiate the Avenger by all means in his 
power. He ordered hundreds of captives to be 
liberated and slaves to be freed ; money and food 
were distributed among the poor. He was buried 



in his mausoleum where it seems that one of his 
brothers, the Emir Ganbalat, had already been 
interred in the year 908 of the Hegira. 

Another mausoleum bearing the name of 
Khairbek is to be found in Aleppo, probably 
built as a precaution in case he should die during 
his governorate. It is of stone, and very simple 
in style, comprising two small domes and the 
ruined remains of a third. Above, the naskhy 
inscription and the round cartouches containing 
the blason of the founder are reminiscent of the 
ornamentation of contemporaneous buildings in 
Cairo. The blason is very full and includes the 
dawaddr's escritoire engraved across the cup- 
bearer's chalice, flanked with two mouth horns, 
a second cup below and a lozenge above. It 
is also to be found on other buildings in Aleppo, 
the Khan ez Zeit and the Khan es Sabim, no 
doubt built under Khairbek J s rule. 



VISITORS to Cairo mosques are so 
accustomed to enter them by stepping 
over a low threshold or, at the most, 
mounting a few steps, that it is quite startling to 
have to climb an imposing flight of steps in order 
to reach the door of this mosque. The effect 
is very picturesque, especially as the steps are 
disposed in a semi-circle, forming a kind of 
artificial hill on which the monument is enthroned, 
and its unique appearance often leads to curiosity 
respecting its history, which is a remarkable one. 
For this is one of the few mosques in Cairo which 
bear a woman's name, though Queen Safiya does 
not seem to have concerned herself with the 
foundation of the edifice, but to have laid hands 
on it after one of her officials had built it. 

The career of this woman was a highly romantic 
one. She belonged to the noble Venetian family 
of Baffo, and her father was Governor of the 
island of Corfu. Having sailed from Venice 



one day in the year 1575, with a large party 
of other ladies, in order to visit her father, her 
ship was captured by pirates, who were so struck 
by her extraordinary beauty that they reserved 
her for the hareem of Sultan Murad III. The 
latter, a weak, frivolous, but kindly prince, 
conceived for her a violent passion, with which 
she continued to inspire him until his death, and 
from the first moment her influence over him 
became paramount in spite of the desperate 
efforts of her rivals. According to the Turkish 
historians Abu Faruq and Ahmed Rassem, kindly 
consulted for me by Ahmed Pasha Zaki, it was 
under the reign of Selim II, father of Murad, 
that women began to wield a power hitherto 
confined to men only, and, before the advent 
of Safiya, the Sultan was entirely ruled over by his 
mother, a Jewess named Nur-Banu, and his 
sister, Princess Asma, married to Sokolli Pasha. 
The two women saw with much disfavour the 
growing power of the new arrival, who had 
immediately been made Sultana Khasski, or 
Favourite, and they stooped to every means to 
counteract it, seeking the most beautiful slaves 
they could find in the hope of diverting Murad 's 
love from the Venetian. On two occasions he was 



temporarily attracted, firstly, by a certain calfa, 
named Raziya, who had acquired some influence 
over him by telling his fortune when he was 
Crown Prince and, secondly, by a brilliantly 
clever Hungarian dancer, but only to return to 
Safiya more ardently than ever. Nur-Banu 
feigned to believe that this was due to sorcery, 
and caused several of the favourite's slaves 
to be executed, but she never succeeded in defeat- 
ing her beautiful daughter-in-law, and died in 
impotent despair. She became reconciled to 
Safiya on her death-bed, and advised her to 
secure the services of her own freed- woman, 
Djanfida, who carried great weight both in the 
Palace and outside, and who, as Governess of the 
hareem, undertook to train slave girls for the 
master's favour. Safiya, strong in her position, 
which had become more assured by her having 
given a first-born son to the Sultan, seems to have 
left the management of the hareem to Djanfida, 
but to have reserved the affairs of the State for 
herself. She lost no opportunity of serving either 
her country or her countrymen, and her name 
appears in several negotiations between the Porte 
and Venice. 1 

1 An interesting episode illustrates Safiya 's importance as 
well as her inclinations : in 1585, the French ambassador, 

I 113 


When Murad died (1595), leaving no fewer than 
twenty sons, Safiya's son Mohammed ascended 
the throne, and we cannot absolve the powerful 
Queen-Mother from having assented to the mur- 
der of the nineteen others a barbarous custom 
which had obtained at the Turkish court since 
the reign of Mohammed I. One of those un- 
fortunate youths, Prince Mustapha, was a poet, 
and wept over himself in pathetic verses, written 
in prevision of his own death when he heard of 
that of his father. 

With all his faults, Murad had one noble 
inclination a passion for building ; he erected 
fortifications against the Persians, and founded 
mosques at Adrianople, Cyprus, Magnesia, etc. 
Queen Safiya emulated her husband in this ; 
she built a mosque at Scutari, and a cloister for the 
Mawlawiya dervishes besides the palace known 
as Daoud Pasha, which is situated on a height 
and which she intended for a refuge in case of a 
rising of the people. She had become possessed 
of an enormous fortune, and occasionally defrayed 

Germigny, asked for the assistance of an Ottoman fleet 
against Philip II, and Queen Catherine of Medici wrote on 
the subject an autograph letter to the Sultana, who com- 
municated it to the Venetian ambassador. 



the pay of some of the troops or other war expenses 
from her privy purse ; but it was chiefly by 
gifts of beautiful slaves that she preserved her 
power over her son. According to Von Hammer, 1 
her influence was corrupt and baneful and she 
was partly responsible for the deplorable mistakes 
made by the Government of Mohammed III. 
When he died in 1603, his son and successor, 
Ahmed I, who was only fourteen years of age, 
refused to accede to the fratricidal custom of his 
predecessors and allowed his brother, Mustafa, 
to survive. His grandmother Safiya, or Baffa, 
as she was frequently called, formerly all-power- 
ful, first as Sultana Khassaki, under Murad III, 
and then as Sultana Valida (dowager) under 
Mohammed III, was sent to the Old Seraglio, 
where she lived in obscurity for fourteen more 
years. Her whole suite of slave girls, eunuchs, 
etc., followed her, with the exception of her 
major-domo, who was executed. She died 
in 1618, in the first year of Othman IPs short 

Some curious documents have been preserved 
in the waqf archives, relating to a trial and 
judgment pronounced at Stamboul in 1594, 
1 History of the Ottoman Empire. 



which throw an interesting light on the judicial 
customs of the time, and which constitute a 
biography of the Mosque of Malika Safiya in 
Cairo, if one may use such a term in speaking of 
a stone and brick entity. 

According to these, the mosque was built by 
a eunuch named Othman ibn Abdullah, who 
endowed it with the revenue from a very large 
property. Another eunuch, named 'Abd er 
Razaq, evidently Queen Safiya 's agent, alleged 
that Othman, being her slave, had no right to 
found a mosque or to dispose of any landed 
property, and claimed, on the Queen's behalf, 
possession of the property which had been appro- 
priated to it. This would seem to have happened 
after the founder's death, for the steward in 
charge of the waqf, Daoud Agha, swore that 
Othman Agha had been freed by the Queen 
before he died, and that, moreover, he had acted 
on her behalf and with her consent. 'Abd er 
Razaq having denied these allegations, Daoud 
Agha demanded that the Queen herself be called 
as a witness. The Qady deferred to his request 
and sent two deputies to the Palace to receive 
the Queen's oath. On the strength of it he then 
gave judgment in her favour, annulling the 



waqfiya and dismissing Daoud from his post. 
The Queen thereupon renewed the waqf and 
appointed J Abd er Razaq as steward or agent 
of the property. As a sequel to this well docu- 
mented case, we find an inscription over the 
entrance door leading from the sahn into the 
sanctuary, which runs as follows : 

" This blessed Mosque was founded by " 
(here follows a long string of titles) " the mother 
of our late Lord Sultan Mohammed Khan . . . 
by the hand of our Lord Ismail Agha, legal 
steward of the aforesaid waqf. 

" This inscription was completed on the ayth 
Moharram of the year 1019 (A.D. 1610) of the 

This leads one to suppose that, several years 
after the building of the mosque, Queen Safiya, 
still disposing of great riches although her son 
had now died, had an inscription placed in 
Othman Agha's monument, attributing the 
foundation of it to herself. Even the honour of 
supervising the building is denied to Othman, but 
given to a certain eunuch, Ismail Agha, who has 
not hitherto appeared in the story, but who is 
here markedly called the " legal " steward of the 
aforesaid waqf. The date of building is carefully 



left unmentioned, only that of the completion 
of the inscription being quoted. 

The whole thing has an air of duplicity which 
does more credit to Safiya's cleverness than to her 

There are other points of interest in the 
documents relating to the Mosque of Malika 
Safiya, which have been communicated to me 
through the kindness of Signor A. Patricolo. 
One of these points, illustrating the literary 
preoccupations of Moslem men of business, is 
that the waqftya in question is entirely written 
in rhymed verse. In order to conform with the 
exigencies of this, the name of 'Abd el Razaq's 
father, which would in the ordinary way be 
assumed to be 'Abdallah, as was the custom where 
eunuchs were concerned, is sometimes given as 
'Abd el Halim, and sometimes 'Abd el Hannan, 
according to the rhyme required, both these 
names having practically the same meaning as 

Another point is the extent of the waqf, con- 
stituted first by Othman Agha, and then confirmed 
by the Queen. It included a four hundred 
feddan village in the Manuf province and an 
estate in the Bulaq road, comprising seventeen 





storehouses, one cafe, thirty- two shops, fifteen 
tenement-rooms, one stable, five wells, two 
tanneries and one slaughter-house. Here is also 
a list of the officials and attendants appointed 
at high wages for the services of the mosque : 
two preachers, two imams, four muezzins, two 
time-keepers, ten Quran-readers, two singers 
" with fine voices," three readers of special 
passages in the Quran, two cleaners, one librarian, 
one leader of prayer, two lamp -lighters, two carpet 
beaters, two attendants for the ablution court, 
four gardeners for the garden which then existed 
in front of the mosque, and lastly, one practical 
workman for small repairs to the building. 

The monument itself is quite worthy of 
attention ; it is entirely Turkish in style, without 
the numerous Mameluke details of structure and 
ornament that are to be found in several other 
mosques built in Cairo since the Turkish con- 
quest, such as Sidi Sariya, El Bordeiny and Abu 

It stands quite clear from other buildings, 
a feature which, according to Captain Creswell, 
distinguishes mosques, properly so called, from 
madrassas or college-mosques. The latter are 
usually dominated in plan by the line of the 



street to which they conform externally, whatever 
the orientation of their interior may be, and often 
have one fa$ade only. It is preceded by a square 
court-yard to which access may be obtained, at 
present, by two doors, each reached by a flight 
of steps in the centre of the south and west faces 
of the courtyard ; there is also a third door 
on the north side to which there is now no stair- 
case. The cloister which runs all round the fore- 
court has three arches to each side, springing 
from columns, and it is vaulted by a series of 
small domes on Byzantine pendentives * of a type 
unknown in Egypt before the Turkish conquest, 
the dome on the centre of each side being oblong 
in plan. 

One small dome, however, stands up entirely 
distinct from the others, the outline of it being 
much more like the usual Mameluke form ; it 
covers a small square room by the north-west 
corner of the sanctuary, approached by a narrow, 
screened gallery, which lines the west wall at a 
lower level than the circular gallery which runs 

1 Domes on continuous sphere pendentives (i.e., where 
dome and pendentive are struck from the same centre) appear 
in Fatimite times. Here, however, the dome rises with a 
steeper curvature than the pendentive. 




around the dome. The room was very probably 
intended for ladies, for a mushrabiya window 
looks out from it into the sanctuary. 

A fine stalactite doorway leads into the sanctuary 
over which lies the great dome, resting on six 
pointed arches. It is surrounded by smaller 
arches, of which the pendentives are cleverly 
elongated or contracted to fit the irregular 
rectangle they are required to fill. 

The main dome is of brick and is pierced with a 
number of small circular openings in addition to a 
row of windows round the base. At the level of the 
latter, a narrow gallery rests on projecting wooden 
beams. The mihrdb stands at the back of a square 
annexe built out in the centre of the east side 
and roofed with a dome. The dikka, or wooden 
balcony, is reached by a staircase arranged in the 
thickness of the wall, a common feature in 
Turkish mosques. 

The beautiful minbar is also characteristically 
Turkish ; it is entirely carved in white marble, 
even to the door, and presents an open-work, 
geometrical design which is exactly the same 
as that of the unique wooden trellis in Barquq's 
desert mausoleum. M. Saladin mentions that 
this particular form of ornament is to be found 
12 121 


executed in marble in some Constantinople 
mosques, and gives a photograph 1 of the minbar 
of the Sulimaniya Mosque in which it is plainly 
visible. He goes on to say that it is to be found 
" in the Mosque of Sitta Nafissa in Cairo " ; 
this is evidently owing to a confusion with the 
subject of the present chapter, for the minbar 
of Sitta Nafissa, like the whole of that mosque, 
is modern and devoid of particular interest. 

1 Page 514. 



A.H. A.D. PLAN. 1 

199 814 Nilometer . . . -79 

212 827 Mosque of Amr ibn el Aas . 319 

254-63 869-76 Aqueduct of Ibn Tulun 

263-5 876-9 Mosque of Ibn Tulun . . 220 


358-60 969-71 Bab Qady-Askar . . 47 

359-61 970-2 Mosque of El Azhar . . 97 

380-403 990-1012 Mosque of El Hakim . .15 

478 1085 Mosque of El Guyushy . 304 

480 1087 Bab en Nasr ... 7 

480 1087 Bab el Futuh ... 6 

484 1090 Bab ez Zuweila . . . 199 

519 1125 Mosque of El Aqmar . . 33 

527 1133 Mashhad of Sayeda Ruqiya . 273 

555 1 1 60 Mosque of Es Saleh Talayeh . 116 

1 The plan published by the Comite de Conservation 
offers a number for each monument classed and registered ; 
I have reproduced these numbers in the plan published with 
Rambles in Cairo. They are also quoted in every instance 
in Captain CreswelPs Brief Chronology. Each monument 
bears a green enamel label with its number in white Arabic 




A.H. A.D. PLAN. 

522-89 1176-93 Burg ez Zafar 
572 , etc . 1 1 76 , etc . Citadel 

608 121 1 Mausoleum of the Imam 

Shafey . . . .218 
639-41 1242-4 College of Negm et Din Ayub 38 
640 1242-3 Mausoleum of Abbasside 

Khalifes .... 276 
647-8 1249-50 Mausoleum of Negm ed Din 

Ayub . . . .38 


648 1250 Mausoleum of Shagarat ed 

Durr 169 

665 1266-7 Bridge of Abul Munagga 
665-7 1266-9 Mosque of Ez Zaher Beybars i 
687 1284 Muristan of Qalaun . . 43 

683-4 J 284-5 Mausoleum of Qalaun . . 43 
684 1285 Madrassa of Qalaun . . 43 

695-703 1295-6 = Madrassa of Mohammed en 

1303-4 Nasser . ... 44 
697 1298 Mausoleum of Zein ed Din 

Yusuf .... 172 
73 !3 3 Madrassa of Sangar el Gawly 221 
706-9 1306-9 Mausoleum of Beybars el 

Gashenkir . . . . 32 
711 1311 Aqueduct . . . .78 

715 1315 Tomb of Hassan Sadaqa . 263 





. ON 



Mosque of Moh. en Nasser PLAN. 

(Citadel) .... 




Mosque of Almas . 

I 3 



Mosque of Qusun . 




OkalaofQusun . 




Mausoleum of Qusun 



J 335 

Mosque of Beshtak 



c- J 337 

Palace of Yushbak 




Palace of Beshtak . 




Mosque of el Mardany . 




Mosque of Hadaq Miska 




Baths of Beshtak . 




Mosque of Aslam el Bahay . 




Mosque of Aqsunqur . 




Mausoleum of Princess Toghay 




Mosque of Sheikhu 




Mausoleum of Sheikhu . 




Madrassa of Serghatmish 




Mosque of Sultan Hassan 




Mausoleum of Princess Tatar 




Mausoleum of Princess Tulbiya 




Mosque of Sultan Shaaban . 




Mosque of Algay et Yussefy . 





Mausoleum of Yunis et 

Dawadar .... 




Mausoleum of Aytmish el 

Nagashy .... 250 









Madrassa of Barquq . .187 



Madrassa of Mahmud el Kurdy 117 



Mosque of Gamal ed Din 

Yusuf . . . .35 



Madrassa of Farag . . 203 



Tomb of Barquq . . . 149 



Tomb of El 'Ainy . .102 



Mosque of El Muayyad . 190 



Muristan of El Muayyad . 60 



Baths of El Muayyad 



Madrassa of Barsbay . . 175 



Mosque of Gohar el Lala . 134 



Mausoleum of Barsbay . .121 



Mausoleum of Umm el Ashraf 106 



Mosque of Barsbay at Khanqa 



Mosque of Taghry Bardy . 19 



Mosque of Yehia Zein ed Din 182 



Mosque of Yehia Zein ed Din 344 



Mosque of Yehia Zein ed Din 204 



Convent of Inal . . .158 

c. 860 


Mausoleum of Barsbay . .124 



Mausoleum of Qaitbay . . 99 



Madrassa of Qaitbay . . 222 



Okala of Qaitbay (el Azhar) . 75 



Madrassa of Ganem el 

Bahlawan . . . .129 



Madrassa of Abu Bakr b. 

Muzhir . . . . 49 



Okala of Qaitbay (Bab en Nasr) 9 








Mosque of Qishmas el Ishaky 114 



Mausoleum el Fadawiya . 5 

c. 1490 

Mosque of Abul *Ila . 340 



Madrassa of Ezbek el 

Yussefy . . . .211 



Mausoleum of Khairbek . 248 



Mosque of Emir Akhor . 136 



Mosque of El Ghury . .189 



Mausoleum of El Ghury . 66 



Gates of Khan Khalil . 53,4,6 



Okala of El Ghury . . 64 




Mosque of " Sidi Sariya " .142 



Mosque of Shahin Agha el 




Mosque el Mahmudiya . . 135 


T 5 6 7 

Mosque of Sinan Pasha 



Mosque of Malika Safiya . 200 



House el Giridliya . .321 



House of Gamal ed Din . 72 


J 744 

Sabil kuttaf of Abder Rahman 

Katkhoda . . . .21 



Mosque of Mohammed Abu 

Dhahab . . . .98 



Palace of Musaffer Khan . 20 



Mosque of Ahmed el Bordainy 201 



Mosque of er Rifay 



Mosque of Abul 'Path (Abdine) 




Abbas, Wazir, 3, 4 

'Abdallah, 4 

'Abdel Hamid Bey Mustafa, 


'Abdel Malek, 48 
'Abd el Rahman, 41, 42 
'Abd er Razak, 116, 118 
Abu Bekr ibn Muzhir, 84, 


Abu Dhahab, 119 
Abu Faruq, 112 
Abu Horiba, 82 
Abul Mohassen, Gamel ed 

Din, 17 
'Aded le din Illah, Khalife el, 


'Adel, el, 14 
Ahmed 1, 115 
Ahmed Rassem, 112 
Ahmed Sultan, 75 
Ahmed Zaki Pacha, 112 
Akush, 54 

Alexander Borgia, 79, 80 
'Aly Bey Bahgat, 9 
'Aly, ibn Abu Taleb, i 
'Aly, son of Aybek, 33, 36 
'Aly Pacha Mubarak, 103 
'Amr, ibn el 'Aas, 62, 98 
Aqbogha, 38 
Aqmar, el, 13 

Aslam el Bahay, 85 
Asma, Princess, 112 
Aubusson, Cardinal d', 77 
Aybek el Muezz, 7, 26, 31, 

32> 33, 34, 35> 36 
Azhar, El, 8, 62, 89, 98 

Badr el Gamaly, 7 
BafFo, see Safiya 
Bahgat, see 'Aly 
Balqish Jehan Raziya, 26 
Barsbay, Sultan, 74, 90 
Bayazid, 77, 78, 80, 83 
Bektimur, Seif ed Din, 8 
Berchem, van, 10, 40, 43, 76, 


Beshtak, 12 
Beybars el Bondoqdary, 23, 

Beybars el Gashenkir, 8, 49, 

5, 5 1 , 53, 54, 55, 5 6 , 59> 

62, 63, 64, 69, 71 
Bilbay, 106 
Birgwan, 85 
Blochet, E., 26 
Bordeiny el, 119 

Casanova, 106 

Chagarett Od Dourr, see 
Shagaret ed Durr 



Charles VIII, 79 

Chosroes, 48 

Comite de Conservation des 
Monuments Arabes, 9, n, 
48, 53>83> 88, 101, 123 

Cornaro, Andrea, 90, 91, 92 

Cornaro, Caterina, 73, 90, 91, 

92, 93 

Cornaro, Giorgio, 92 

Creswell, 96, 104, 119, 123 

Daoud Agha, 116 

Djem, 73, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80 

Djanfida, 113 

Ezbek, Emir, 81 
Ezbek el Yussefy, 82 

Fadawiya, el, 82 

Faiz, Khalife el, 3, 4, 7 

Fakhr ed Dm, 17, 20, 21, 23 

Fares Aqtay, Emir, 25, 32 

Firuz Shah, 26 

Fostat, 62 

Fouad, H. H. Sultan, 46 

Franz Pascha, 70 

Gamel ed Din Mohsen, 20, 35 

Ganem el Bahlawan, 83 

Gaqmaq, Sultan, 74, 94 

Ganbalat, no 

Ganbardy el Ghazzaly, 107 

Gayet, 70, 71 

Gibb, E. J. N., 80 

Giorgione, 93 

Ghury el, 87, 102, 104, 106 

Hafez-le-din Illah, Khalife 

el, 4 

Hakim, el, 8, 53, 69, 85 
Hammer, von, 115 
Hassan, Sultan, 48, 72, 83 
Helena Paleologue, 90, 91 
Hussein (Martyr), 7 

Ibn ed Deif, 5 

Ibn lyas, 50, 60, 97, 98, 99, 

105, 106, 107, 108 
Ibn Masun, 2 
Ibn Tulun, 8, 10, 38, 66 
Idekin, 33 
Inal, Sultan, 74 
Innocent VIII, 79 
Ismail Agha, 117 
Ismail of Damascus, 15 
Ismail Pasha, 81 

Joinville, 17, 23 

Kamel, el, 13, 14, 18,32 
Khairbek, 87, 101, 103, 104 

106, 107, 108, 109, no 
Khalil, 19, 20, 27, 30, 38 
Khoshqadam, Sultan, 75, 91 
Khosrow Pacha, 13 

Lagin, 8 

Lane Poole, 3, 37, 43, 52, 70 

74> 77> 80 
Lanzone, 89 
Louis, Saint, 16, 18, 19, 22 

23> 25 

Louis of Savoy, 90, 91 
Lulu, Prince of Mausul, 34 
Lusignan, Charlotte of, 90 
Lusignan, James of, 90, 91 
Lusignan, John II of, 90, 91 



Mamay, Emir, 83 

Maqrizy, i, 5, 18, 20, 27, 33, 

36, 49, 51, 61, 62 
Marcel, 26 
Margoliouth, 70 
Marwan, Khalife, 41 
Mas Latrie, 93 
Masrbay, Princess, 108 
Mathias Corvinus, 79 
Maurel, Andre", 93 
Merionec, A. de, 19 
Modestus, 47 
Mohammed I, 114 
Mohammed II, 73, 75, 76, 

Mohammed III, 114, 115, 

Mohammed, son of Qaitbay, 

99, 106 
Mohammed en Nasser, son 

of Qalaun, 8, 12, 28, 48, 

^9> 55> 5 6 > 57> 5 8 > 59> 6o > 
u, 64, 65,66, 109 
Mostassem b'lllah, Khalife, 

Mu'awiya, 41 
Muezz, el, see Aybek 
Munissa, 13 
Murad III, 112, 114 
Mussa Muzaffar ed Din, 32 
Mustafa, Prince, 114 

Nasser, en, see Mohammed 
Nasser Youssef, En, 34, 35 
Negm ed Din, see Saleh 
Nur Banu, 112, 113 

Othman, Sultan, 74 
Othman II, 115 

Othman, ibn Abdallah, 116, 

Osama, 3 

Patricolo, 44, 45, 118 

Qaitbay, 48, 70, 73, 75, 76, 
77, 78, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 
88, 89, 93, 94, 96, 97, 99, 

Qalaun, u, 12, 38, 71, 72 

Qanuh, 108 

Qichmas el Ishaqy, 82, 95 

Quatremere, 49 

Raziya, 113 

Richard Cceur de Lion, 90 
Robert of Artois, 22 
Ruzzik, see Saleh 

Safiya, Malika, in, 112, 113, 
114, 115, 116, 117, 118 

Saffa, Es, Khalife, 41 

Saladin, Sultan, 8, 13 

Saladin (writer], 70, 121 

Saleh Negm ed Din Ayub, 
n, 13, 14, 15, 18,19, 20, 
23, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32 

Saleh Talayeh ibn Ruzzik, i, 
2, 3>4>5> 6 >78, 10 

Sangar el Gawly, 53, 59, 61, 

Selar, 8, 50, 53, 55, 56, 59, 

Selim Shah, Sultan, 106 

Selimll, 211 

Serghatmish, 10 

Shafey, Imam, 45, 47, 48, 


Shagaret ed Durr, 13, 19, 20, 
21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, 

32, 34> 35> 38 
Shams ed Din, 26 
Sheykhy,Ech, 60, 61,63 
Shawar, 6 

Sidi Sariya, 13, 87, 119 
Sokoli Pacha, 112 
St. Maurice, M. de, 81 
Suheyl, 20, 21 
Sultan, Shah, Sheykh, 98 

Taibars, 38 

Talayeh, see Saleh Talayeh 
Timurbugha, Sultan, 75 
Titian, 93 

Turan, Shah, 19, 20, 24, 25 

Uday, 45 
Ummaya, 40 
Uzun Hassan, 75 

Walid, Khalife el, 41 

Yashbak el Mahdy, 82, 83 
Yunis, Emir, 14, 15 
Yussef Eff. Ahmed, 47 

Zaher b'amr Illah, ez, 3 
Zein ed Din Yussef, 40, 43, 
44, 45, 46, 94, 95, 96 

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